WASHINGTON (AP) — Pepco is seeking a $52 million rate increase for District of Columbia customers that would add $5.89 to the average monthly residential bill.

The utility’s president, Thomas Graham, says the proposed rate hike is necessary to improve customer service and reliability. A separate request for a rate increase is pending in Maryland.

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Pepco, which supplies electricity to D.C. and parts of Maryland, faced strong criticism for its response to a fast-moving wind storm that caused widespread outages that lasted for days.

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Mayor Vincent Gray has convened a task force to look into the feasibility of relocating more power lines underground in hopes of limiting extended electricity outages in the future.

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