05/29/07 BGE

Coming up during the first hour of today’s show, we are going to discuss the upcoming rate increase in your BGE bill. 

 Here is an article in the Baltimore Sun about it.

Could former public service commissioners have done more to prevent this?  Is this rate increase unfair?  The same PSC order that okayed the rate increase also lay out a “long-term strategy of examining the wholesale energy market and studying all facets of the state’s deregulation plan in hopes of advocating reforms leading to lower rates.”   What does that mean? And were the promises that lawmakers would find a way to avoid this just empty election year promises?

We’ll discuss all that and more this afternoon with Skip Trimble, an energy expert with South River Consulting, Chairman of the Public Service Commission Steve Larsen, and Johanna Newmann, an advocate with MaryPIRG.

-Jessica Phillips

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One Response

  1. Here is a letter from Maria Allwine to Steiner addressing the bias of WYPR, which was outrageous; having O’Malley’s people on and true no consumer rights activists! No one was from the Maryland Coalition to Stop the Rate Hikes, a true people’s organization, was invited to be on, despite Steiner knowing of the group, as he has recently admitted. We are also saddened by the way in which Maryland PIRG has folded on this issue. Shame on them.

    Marc,

    You know that I believe you try to do a service for your listeners and fill a
    void by getting information “out there” that isn’t generally discussed or reportedin the mainstream media. That said, I must take serious issue with your show on BGEtoday.

    I was appalled and upset that, after I emailed you at least 3 times (and identifiedmyself as a member of the MD Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes) regardingpossible guests for the show and providing you specific information, you chose to have 2 apologists for BGE/Constellation and a representative of a group that has publicly stated it now supports “stabilization’ and “market rates” as your guests today. When Chris Bush from our coalition called in after me today, he was cut off.
    When he called back he was placed at the end of the queue (I have heard you tellcallers that if they are cut off, they should call back and you’ll get them in) andnever got on. He called back after the show and spoke with Jessica Phillips whotold him you didn’t know anything about the coalition. You and I both know that isjust not true. You’ve answered at least one email of mine in which I clearly sayI’m with the coalition.

    Marc, I am so disappointed in you. This issue is HUGE – and it affects everyone. Steve Larsen is flat-out lying when he says we have a lot of wrong information. Tell that to the head of Hagerstown Light, the American Public Power Association, an investigative reporter and several members of our coalition. It’s easy for someone like Steve Larsen to say that – it stops discussion. But it’s wrong and false and either Chris Bush or I or both of us should have been on your show today to counter that.

    If one more guest on this topic talks about conservation, turning light bulbs off, etc. I’m going to blow a gasket! Conservation is a long-term issue and an important part of the long-term solution. But it is inappropriate to use that issue to hide the real problem – which is allowing any company that provides essential services to be run for-profit. How dare anyone place the onus on the residential ratepayer!

    It’s like blaming a rape victim – and it’s outrageous, insulting and wrong. But it’s a good tactic, you have to agree – because people took up time on your show today talking about conservation. Instead of talking about the legalized theft of our money, the discussion focuses on what the residentail ratepayers should be doing. It’s outrageous.

    Haven’t you noticed that when I’ve called in on, I believe 3 different occasions,
    and I talk about the cost to produce power vs. what we’re being charged – none of
    your guests ever addresses that. None of your guests ever address the very simple
    fact that the difference between those two figures is going directly into the
    pockets of the executives and shareholders of BGE. If that’s not true, I’m still
    waiting for someone to correct me. I mentioned the $528 million in stranded costs
    during one of those calls – nary a peep from your guests. No one addressed my point
    that wholesale electricity prices rose approximately 19% last year – that’s all. No
    one said anything to address my comment about BGE making the highest profit in its
    history the first quarter of this year. No one said anything about the comments of
    M. Shattuck that I read. Because they can’t – and you let them off the hook!

    I also called back to answer your question about why BGE/Constellation was
    deregulated in 1999 – which I told you in an email at least 3 months ago – Maggie
    McIntosh answered that same question, which I asked her in a public forum, and said
    that the state legislators believed BGE/Shattuck when they said that if they were
    not deregulated, they would leave the state. The state legislature was basically
    blackmailed into deregulating BGE. They failed us by not doing any basic research
    and going along with this scheme. Joan Carter Conway said publicly that to her,
    something just didn’t smell right. She looked at the cable companies, Ma Bell, the
    airline industry, etc. – and felt that deregulation of essential utilities was not a
    good thing – she voted against deregulation!

    One of the PSC members came up to me after we testified last month and told me that
    when she was on the commission in 99, she was physically ill when deregulation was
    being considered because she knew it was going to get pushed through and it was
    wrong. She told me she thought the PSC might seriously consider rate caps now. Of
    course, we know how far that went.

    Also, the claim by Larsen that people can save 10-15% with other suppliers is not
    true. The savings is closer to 2-3%. Why? Because those suppliers (such as Ohms)
    still get their electricity from BGE and BGE still charges for
    transmission/delivery. That figure is from one of those alternative suppliers – he
    was being truthful. There is NO WAY for residential ratepayers to save money by
    switching suppliers. Not to mention that, as one of your guests – or maybe it was
    you – said – the competition that was anticipated has not happened. Deregulation
    always creates a monopoly.

    Additionally, Larsen’s comment that tying together BGE’s $80K contribution to
    O’Malley is irresponsible is laughable at best and a lie at worse. That comment
    alone proved for me how cozy Larsen is with O’Malley. We all KNOW how our system of
    government works – and you do too. You better believe that $80K bought something!!
    And it didn’t buy anything for us.

    Marc, you have truly done your listeners a disservice today and I am so upset by it.
    I trust you to be fair and to present all views. I know that you have been an
    activist all your life. But being an activist still means being willing to take on
    the powers that be when it’s the right thing to do. This is one of those times – we
    are being royally screwed in this deregulation scheme – and this state and the 1.2
    million residential ratepayers have been Enronned. I’ve marched on this issue with
    people who have 2 and 3 jobs and can not pay their bills. This is wrong. Period.
    And we’re going to fight for as long as it takes to do something about it.

    Our legislators, our governor and yes, the PSC, are all either too scared or too
    financially obligated to BGE/Constellation to protect us. We’ll do it ourselves.

    Maria Allwine

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