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Md. nixes utilities' billing 24 hours after outage

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland utilities will no longer be able to charge customers for lost sales during the first 24 hours of a major power outage.

The Maryland Public Service Commission announced Friday that the policy would end immediately.

The panel issued two separate orders to revise bill stabilization adjustment calculations for Exelon Corp.'s Baltimore Gas and Electric, Pepco Holdings Inc.'s Delmarva Power and Light Company, Potomac Electric Power Company and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.

Utilities had been allowed to charge customers for electricity distribution costs throughout long power outages, but the policy was changed in January to allow the charges only during the first 24 hours after major storms.

The amount charged only averages about 49 cents a customer, but anger after long power outages during June's "derecho" storm brought a renewed focus on the policy.