First hearing on public views of deregulation set last night

Second is to be held tonight in Baltimore

Electric power

August 17, 1999|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The public was to get its first chance to comment last night in Annapolis on a settlement backed by the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to deregulate the electric industry in Maryland.

A second hearing will be held tonight at 7 o'clock in Baltimore at the War Memorial Building at 101 N. Gay St. The last hearing is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Harford County Multi-Purpose Building at 2 S. Bond St. in Bel Air.

Along with BGE representatives, officials from the People's Counsel's office, which supports the settlement, are expected to attend the hearings.

Thomas W. Kinnane, an attorney for the Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association (MAPSA) of New Jersey, a group of companies that want to sell power in Maryland and that oppose the settlement, said his client has not decided if it will attend the hearings.

Only one of the five PSC commissioners will attend each of the hearings, said Glenn Ivey, the panel's chairman, who said the sessions will be an "open mike" night for the public.

The proposed settlement features a 6.5 percent rate cut fixed for six years for residential BGE customers. In return, BGE would receive $528 million in "stranded costs" that the agreement says the company would receive from all of its customers as partial repayment for what it has spent building power plants.

MAPSA contends that the deal will not allow for competition once consumers can choose their power provider next July because the "shopping credit" of 4.3 cents -- the amount charged customers on their monthly bills for the production of electricity -- is too low.

The PSC wrapped up three days of evidentiary hearings last week where the settlement's supporters and opponents presented their views.

Written closing arguments in the hearings are due Aug. 30, and rebuttals are set for Sept. 8.

The commission is to issue a decision in October.

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