Accusing Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. of "hoarding information," a hearing officer for the state Public Service Commission ordered the utility yesterday to give a Houston-based company another chance to present its proposal for a power plant that would sell electricity to BG&E.
PSC hearing examiner Daniel P. Gahagan gave BG&E a green light to start building two turbine combustion generators at its Perryman site in Harford County, but that could be reversed if the Houston company, Cogen Technologies Inc., is able to offer the electricity for less, said Ross D. Ain, an attorney for Cogen.
"I would view that as conditional authorization," Mr. Ain said of the hearing examiner's decision, which he hailed as a "vindication" of Cogen's position that BG&E had not negotiated fairly. The company has 30 days to make a new offer to sell electricity to BG&E, and Mr. Ain said he was confident the company's proposal would be acceptable.
BG&E management said it had not had a chance to analyze the decision and could not comment.
For months, Cogen has been battling BG&E for a chance to build a 500-megawatt generating plant in South Baltimore and sell electricity to the utility company.
Traditionally, power plants have been built by utilities, and BG&E has proposed building gas-fired generators in Harford County rather than purchase power from Cogen.
But Cogen challenged that proposal, citing a federal law that requires a utility to purchase power if it can do so for less than it would cost to generate the power itself.
Mr. Gahagan attacked BG&E's conduct in the case, saying, "I conclude that BG&E guards information so jealously in both negotiations and litigation that Cogen has not had a fair opportunity to respond to BG&E's legitimate concerns. I also find that Cogen has been prejudiced in this litigation by the many changes and errors in BG&E's case over the last six months."