Views about deregulation plan submitted

Power marketers oppose BGE-backed settlement as hindering competition

Electric Industry

August 31, 1999|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Supporters and opponents of a settlement backed by the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to deregulate the electric industry in Maryland tried again yesterday to make their case for why the proposal should stand -- or fail.

Yesterday was the deadline for parties to file written closing arguments to the Maryland Public Service Commission. The deadline for rebuttal arguments is Sept. 8. The PSC said it will issue a decision in October.

BGE, the Office of the People's Counsel, the PSC staff and other supporters of the settlement filed briefs, as did the Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association (MAPSA), a group of out-of-state power marketers that want to sell power in Maryland and oppose the settlement.

"We addressed a number of issues raised in the testimony by MAPSA members. We did our best to show why those positions are without merit," said Robert S. Fleishman, vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel for Constellation Energy Group, BGE's parent company.

MAPSA "is not a philanthropic institution trying to promote the betterment of the public. This is a group with its own self-interests," Fleishman said, adding that the settlement is endorsed by a wide range of parties. "That's a stark contrast."

Thomas W. Kinnane, an attorney representing MAPSA, said his client's goal in its brief is to "key in on the arrogance of BGE."

"They believe the settlement is the right way to go just because they say so," he said. "It is wrong to try and force the settlement in light of evidence we presented" during hearings.

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 get from all its customers as partial repayment for what it has spent building power plants.

The settlement also includes a 4.224 cent per kilowatt hour "shopping credit" -- the amount charged customers on their monthly bills for the production of electricity. MAPSA contends that the credit is too low to allow for competition.

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