State utility regulators have stepped up to protest a controversial bill snaking through the General Assembly in Annapolis that would vastly restructure Maryland's power supply system.
The Public Service Commission's objections to House Bill 10, which would allow Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to alter its corporate structure but would also set an aggressive timetable for breaking up Maryland's monopolistic electricity structure, stem from amendments that the state Senate attached last week.
In a letter to Del. Ronald A. Guns, chairman of the House Environmental Matters Committee and a key supporter of the BGE-inspired legislation, the PSC's chairman wrote that the commission has "strong opposition to House Bill 10 as recently amended by the Senate."
"Unfortunately, floor amendments were added to House Bill 10 which cause the commission grave concern," PSC Chairman Glenn F. Ivey wrote in a letter dated April 6. "Several of these amendments are inconsistent with recent commission decisions issued after lengthy contested proceedings.
"It seems unwise to address such important policy decisions through floor amendments when no hearings have been held and interested persons have had no opportunity to explain the ramifications of these complicated issues."
Guns, a Cecil County Democrat, apparently agrees, saying yesterday that he would let the bill die if the Senate insisted on its amendments. "There's still a major problem in the General Assembly endorsing electric restructuring without having a bill hearing," Guns said. "It's best left to the PSC to work out these details."
Ivey's letter marks the latest in a string of objections to the bill, which BGE originally pushed as a way to gain financial flexibility and beef up its unregulated subsidiaries in preparation for competition and deregulation.
Since the bill's revisions and additions, however, business groups, environmentalists -- and even BGE -- have come out in opposition to House Bill 10.
The PSC, which Ivey noted purposely avoided taking a stance on House Bill 10 before the Senate's action, objected to amendments that dealt with universal service, environmental issues, costs associated with obsolete power plants and interests between utilities and their subsidiaries.
Pub Date: 4/08/98