1/28/08 Steve Larsen

At noon, a topic I know some of our listeners follow very closely… while some of you might just wonder how you’re going to pay a $450 BGE bill this month, which, by the way, is slightly less than the bill that arrived at my house last week.

Something for everyone, then: Steve Larsen, Chairman of the PSC (Public Service Commission, more info on both Steve individually and the PSC as a whole here) joins us to discuss the ongoing investigation into Maryland’s 1999 energy deregulation deal, that led to a 72% rate hike for more than 1 million BGE customers last year, and could be followed by higher increases soon.

If, indeed, consumers got a bad deal, what should/can be done now?  Should Maryland consider re-regulating?  How about seeking monetary compensation from Constellation Energy in court?  Last August, Illinois reached a one billion dollar settlement with a coalition of power suppliers over contentious rate hikes there.  Read one account of it, from EnergyBiz Magazine, here.  Please join us with your questions for Steve Larsen on the air at noon (866-661-9309 or thesteinershow@wypr.org) and don’t forget to post your thoughts here, as well.

-Justin

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2 Responses

  1. I stand by my comment when I called in today that Maryland has done nothing to address the theft that is deregulation. Why? Because I am still hearing from people whose utility bills exceed their income – with no end in sight for the foreseeable future. I am personally paying bills of over $400 for the privilege of freezing in our home. I’m sick and tired of hearing people literally cry because they have no idea how they are going to pay their utility bills. This is wrong and immoral and no amount of talk changes that.

    It was bad enough that the state legislature caved to BGE’s deregulation extortion demand back in 99, but equally as disgraceful is the ongoing status quo. Yes, other states has reregulated or gotten huge rate concession from their investor-owned utilities. Why not Maryland?

    Mr. Larsen talked about the PSC filing a complaint with the FERC; however, the pro-industry FERC has declared a hands-off approach to issues individual states may have with deregulation. If by some miracle the FERC does decide to take the PSC’s complaint seriously – or take action – it will be a long while before any (hopefully) positive effects, like reregulation, reach the ratepayers.

    Meanwhile, we residential ratepayers struggle to deal with the transfer of money from our pockets to the already-bulging pockets of BGE executives as well as its shareholders. We struggle to pay for ever rising gasoline, health care, rent, prescription medicines, rising water/sewer rates as well as insurance premiums and ever-increasing hidden fees charged by banks and financial institutions. As long as we are forced to shiver in our underheated homes while we are paying for this legalized theft, then I maintain that the state legislature, the PSC and our governor are doing absolutely nothing. When the first step of reregulation comes to fruition, then I will say the state of Maryland has finally done something for the people who really are this state.

  2. How in the world are you people paying so much to BGE?

    My husband and I have lived in Baltimore for a year and our average BGE bill is around $100/month for gas and electricity to power our 1400 square foot rowhouse.
    We have an old oil burner, which adds another $100/month to our energy bill.

    Maybe, just maybe, your high energy bills are not entirely BGE’s fault. The comments above certainly have merit, but there are things homeowners and renters can do to bring that bill down:
    -use compact fluorescent light bulbs
    -turn off lights if you’re not in the room
    -turn the thermostat down to at least 68F and put on a sweater (this is what we do up North where it really gets cold)
    -unplug electronic devices if you’re not using them (this -includes the TV, DVD player, and even the microwave)
    -if you can’t replace old windows, make sure you’ve got heavy curtains up during the winter. those plastic kits to insulate windows can also help.
    -make sure your refrigerator isn’t set too high
    -hot water heaters also have a dial setting; consider turning yours down a bit (if you leave on vacation – the dial has a “Vacation” setting – just don’t forget to turn it back when you get home).

    It may be a while before the issues described above get solved, so we should all do what we can personally to help ourselves.

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