Potential rivals of BGE opposed

Counter-proposal on deregulation is denounced

Deregulation

August 04, 1999|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Four of the 12 parties that have endorsed Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s electricity deregulation settlement yesterday denounced a counter-proposal made by a group of potential BGE competitors.

The filings, made to the Maryland Public Service Commission, responded to a proposal submitted to the PSC nearly two weeks ago by the Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association of New Jersey (MAPSA). MAPSA said its proposal would be more favorable to competition, once BGE customers can begin choosing their electric power suppliers in July.

"All of the parties that agree with the settlement remain in support of it and very much oppose MAPSA's suggestions or recommendation," said Robert S. Fleishman, vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel for Constellation Energy Group, BGE's parent.

The settlement, to which BGE and the 12 other parties agreed in June, allows for a 6.5 percent rate reduction for BGE's residential customers. In return, BGE would collect $528 million from all customers over six years as partial repayment for what it spent on building power plants.

MAPSA said its proposal would maintain the 6.5 percent cut, but would raise customers' "shopping credit." Customers would use the credit to compare prices when they shop for power. If a competitor could supply electricity for less than the credit, the customer could save money.

In Maryland, the shopping credit is the same as the amount charged customers on their monthly bills for the production of electricity. According to the proposed settlement, customers would compare prices with BGE's rate of 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour. MAPSA's proposal offers a higher price of 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour for customers to compare.

Deregulation is "new for everyone in Maryland, and all of these proposals deserve a full and fair hearing," said Gary Alexander, an attorney representing MAPSA. "There is a lot at stake for many years to come."

MAPSA's proposal is "good for the consumer," he said. "The only one hurt by our shopping credit is BGE, because it means less money for them."

MAPSA represents a coalition of power companies -- including DTE Edison America, Shell EnergyServices Co. and Green Mountain Energy Resources -- that wants to sell electricity in Maryland.

Fleishman said the MAPSA proposal is the coalition's effort to increase electricity-generation costs for customers who remain with BGE after choice begins.

The parties that submitted testimony yesterday were the Public Service Commission staff, the Maryland Office of People's Counsel, the Maryland Energy Administration and the Power Plant Research Program of the Maryland Department of National Resources.

MAPSA submitted testimony supporting its own proposal.

Yesterday was the deadline for submission of rebuttal testimony challenging or supporting the BGE settlement proposed July 23. The testimony sets the stage for PSC hearings that are to begin next Wednesday.

Also, Alexander said, MAPSA plans to challenge the confidentiality of a document BGE supplied to the coalition by order of the PSC. The document estimates the value of BGE's power plants.

"The public has a right to know the information in the study," Alexander said. "It has a direct bearing on the issues in the case."

"We have nothing to hide," said Fleishman of BGE. But, he said, "competitively sensitive information should be dealt with in a confidential fashion."

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