Leningrad BoundEditor: The news that the Pride of...


July 04, 1991

Leningrad Bound

Editor: The news that the Pride of Baltimore II will visit St. Petersburg/Leningrad on the Fourth of July (For The Record, June 25) calls to mind the visit to that city by another Baltimore ship a little over 200 years ago.

In 1784, the merchant brigantine Ann, out of Baltimore, carried the American flag to the Russian port for the first time. Her owner, Robert Gilmor, was one of Baltimore's early maritime merchant princes. Perhaps her cargo included a shipment of Maryland tobacco for the members of the court of Empress Catherine the Great. Her mission--to encourage trade between the two cities. The Pride of Baltimore II has a similar mission today.

Charles J. Scheve.



Editor: For those of us who began asking Baltimore City for aopportunity to recycle back in the '80s, it has been very exciting to watch the program grow.

I'm especially pleased that the city has found a way to incorporate regular recycling collections into the twice-weekly trash pickup. This was a suggestion made by the Citizen's Planning and Housing Association in 1988 and it still seems like a practical approach.

However, as an apartment dweller, I am aware of a fairly large hole in the city's recycling program.

The folks in homes across the street from mine get curbside collection twice a month, but the residents in my 60-unit complex do not. If we want to recycle (and many of us do), we have to make our own opportunities -- in most cases taking the long drive to a drop-off center.

I'd like to see the city work with private haulers and property managers to include multifamily housing in its recycling effort this year.

Barbara Frierson.


Unfair Nuisance

Editor: In the business section May 31, Kim Clark wrote that Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. has selected 50 Baltimoreans to test their plan, PowerStat, in which customers pay for their power in advance and then monitor their usage penny by penny on a special computer.

PowerStat is being introduced to replace the little-used (perhaps, little-known) Economy Service discount which has not given needy people a break in electricity rates which have risen dramatically in the last few years.

Kim Clark's article informed us that 50 Baltimoreans will spend the next year testing out small computers BG&E will install free in their homes. The computers will display their electricity use, penny by penny and minute by minute.

In my opinion, here's the hardship which will be inflicted not only upon the poor, the elderly, the handicapped but also those whose understanding and knowledge of the English language is very limited.

If the plan is adopted after the experimental period, customers will buy a card, similar to a credit card, from BG&E. They will slide the card through a slot in the computer to pre-pay their lTC utility bills. Once they have used all the electricity they've bought and paid for in advance, a device connected to the computer will shut off their power. Customers can turn their power back on, or keep it going as their credit is consumed, by buying another card from BG&E and running it through the slot. However, in compliance with Maryland's law against shutting off utilities needed for survival, the computer will be programmed not to shut off customers' power during the winter heating season.

BG&E will not be offering a discount to PowerStat customers even though BG&E would be receiving payments in advance and would also save the expense of meter reading. Buying and installing the computer will cost BG&E approximately $400 per household.

Lilo Shifter, a member of the Public Service Commission, said that regulators had ordered BG&E to phase out its nine-year old Economy Services because it ''was not a very efficient solution to the problem'' of the thousands of customers who have difficulty paying utility bills. People's Counsel John Glynn, appointed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to represent customers in utility matters, feels that while the PowerStat program might be useful for some customers, it was not a good replacement for Economy Service in these days of rising electricity costs.

To me, PowerStat will not encourage users to conserve electricity as the wasteful generally are wasteful. Reading our computers and constantly sending payments for additional electricity will not only be an added expenses but also inflict tremendous pressure upon those of use who are handicapped in any way. Regardless of our robust health in our youth, as we grow older, our eyesight (even with glasses) becomes blurred, making reading very difficult.

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