Consumer advocates yesterday delivered a wheelbarrow full of more than 1,400 letters to the Maryland Public Service Commission, protesting a request by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co for a $194 million rate increase.
"The company [BG&E] is asking for an unreasonable amount of money, at an unreasonable rate of return for an unreasonable list of expenses," said Janelle Cousino, executive director of the Maryland Citizen Action Coalition, the group that presented the letters.
BG&E has said it needs the increase to cover the cost of a new coal-fired generating unit, renovations at the troubled Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant and other costs.
People's Counsel John Glynn, the state official who represents rate-payers before the commission, contends that the commission should grant only a $10.5 million increase. The commission's staff has recommended that BG&E get a $98.4 million increase.
Two pennies had been taped to each letter in the wheelbarrow, a message saying: "I would like to add my two cents to the debate."
"Our 'two cents' is that they [BG&E] should not receive money for extraordinary expenses at Calvert Cliffs and they should not be rewarded for mismanagement by increasing their cash flow at our expense," Cousino said.
The $28 in pennies will be donated to the Maryland Energy Assistance Program, a state program that helps low-income residents pay their heating bills in the winter, according to Frank Fulton, a spokesman for the commission.
Commission Chairman Frank O. Heintz received the letters and said the commission should make a decision on the rate request in about two weeks.
The letters collected by the coalition came from residents in Baltimore and in Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard and Carroll counties.