TC For the first time in its history, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has been ordered by state regulators to create a competitive bidding process for selecting a company to supply electricity to Maryland customers.
The company that sparked the case, Cogen Technologies Inc. of Houston, called the decision a disappointment and said it expects BG&E to "stack the deck" against non-utility power producers.
The ruling issued yesterday by the Public Service Commission stems from a case in which Cogen was trying to force BG&E to agree to buy electricity from a power station Cogen proposed to build in South Baltimore.
Cogen argued that it could provide the electricity less expensively than BG&E, which planned to build combustion turbine generators at its Perryman site in Harford County.
But instead of picking BG&E or Cogen to build the generating plant, the commission threw open the process to all interested parties and told BG&E to select the lowest-priced proposal. BG&E has until July 15 to submit a draft of its bid solicitation proposal to the commission.
The PSC, which regulates all utility companies in Maryland, granted BG&E permission to begin construction at Perryman, but BG&E said it would wait for the results of the competitive bidding before starting construction.
Until now, BG&E had built its own plants or negotiated privately with other companies to supply electricity to its system. But with the commission's order yesterday, the process will be more open and probably will result in BG&E's building fewer plants.
"I'm encouraged that they are moving toward a more rational bidding process," said Maryland's people's counsel, John M. Glynn, the state official who represents ratepayers. He said BG&E could continue to build plants if it can prove they are efficient.