Calvert Cliffs dispute gets year-end deadline At issue is whether BGE or customers pay for 1989-91 outages

August 08, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The state and the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. will have until year-end to submit final arguments in a case to determine responsibility for outages at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant and $460 million in related costs, the state's utility regulatory body determined yesterday.

Public Service Commission Hearing Examiner O. Ray Bourland III's deadline, established yesterday during the first of eight scheduled days of hearings, means that an end to the long-running case could occur early next year.

"There are a lot of things here for any one person to decide and synthesize. So what I'm telling you is, the earlier those briefs are received the better," Bourland said. Bourland added that he would begin writing his order prior to the filing of final briefs.

At issue is whether BGE or its customers should shoulder the burden of $460 million in costs associated with extended outages at the Lusby plant from 1989 to 1991. BGE contends that it should pay $35 million of the cost, while the PSC staff says the utility should pay $161 million.

Meanwhile, the Office of People's Counsel, the state's citizens advocate, asserts that BGE should pay up to $400 million. BGE customers have already paid $395 million of the costs, which would be subject to being refunded if the company loses the case.

In cross-examination of People's Counsel witnesses yesterday, BGE attorneys focused on the plant's performance and safety record before the outages, which were caused by a series of mechanical failures and what the state contends were imprudent actions by BGE management.

BGE attorney David Perlman pointed to numerous Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules that the utility followed prior to the outage as evidence that BGE's actions were "reasonable" before and in the wake of the 1,370-day shutdown.

"I would sum up the testimony today by saying that the company believes that they should receive credit because the plant generated power from the time it became operational until the outages," said Matthew Nayden, an attorney working with the People's Counsel. "But that's their job. What we should be focusing on is what happened during and after the outages."

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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