Electric deregulation will save money but won't disrupt...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 15, 2000

Electric deregulation will save money but won't disrupt service

The Sun's recent article on electricity deregulation noted that eight trade groups will unite to negotiate cheaper electric rates this year ("8 trade groups will unite, seek cheaper power rates," Jan. 7)

This is the natural, expected response to the deregulation of electricity. In the new system, individuals and businesses can choose a supplier for electricity, while the local utility company delivers it.

But Champe McCulloch, the representative of the Maryland Hotel and Motel Association quoted in that article, is wrong that the individual consumer's benefits will be minimal.

That's because all Maryland utilities implementing the consumer choice program this summer have agreed to cut their rates and freeze them for several years.

This means that the "little guys" save on their energy costs, even if they choose to do nothing. And if customers want to switch suppliers, they will have a field of new suppliers from which to find better rates or services.

Better yet, we predict that church groups, condominium associations and chambers of commerce will also form buying groups to negotiate the best deals for electricity.

Consumers can thus stay with their utility company and save; switch and save; or band together and cut costs further.

The local utility company will still delivers the electricity, repair the lines and answer customer questions.

This offers the best of the old and the new -- competition and reliability -- so that everyone is a winner.

John M. Derrick Jr.

Washington

The writer is chairman and chief executive officer of Potomac Electric Power Co.

All state employees are due a raise

The Sun's article on the proposed state employee pay raises was misleading. information ("State workers settle on 8% raise," Jan. 5). It gave the distinct impression that only members of the unions participating in negotiations will benefit from the collective bargaining agreements.

In fact, the agreements cover all employees assigned to the bargaining unit, regardless of which union they belong to or if they are a member of any union at all. State law provides for this nondiscriminatory representation.

All state employees -- including higher education, judicial and "confidential" staff -- should be granted the four percent raise.

And, given the state's extraordinary budget surplus, employees should see this increase on the first of July -- not four months later.

Ruth Ann Ogle

Hagerstown

The writer is president of the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

Time for Schaefer to consider retirement?

Is anyone besides me getting tired of William Donald Schaefer's constant grandstanding on the Board of Public Works (BPW)? ("Schaefer and Dixon block emissions testing contract," Jan. 6).

I don't believe that Mr. Schaefer 's diatribes are related so much to what's best for Maryland as to his frustration at no longer being governor.

He has always been convinced that no one can do any job as well as he did, and takes every opportunity to sling mud at his successors in Baltimore and Annapolis.

I think someone should remind Mr. Schaefer that the BPW is not his personal forum for taking potshots at the governor.

Perhaps it's time for Mr. Schaefer to consider retiring and leaving the business of running the state to those with a more statesman-like approach.

Anthony P. Seitz

Glen Burnie

Keep wells, conduits out of state forests

I read with concern The Sun's article about the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' decision to allow drilling and access-road widening and resurfacing in the Savage River State Forest ("Well stirs debate," Jan. 5)

I assume a conduit also would have to be constructed to transport water through the state forest.

Such incursions should be prohibited in undeveloped parts of state forests, particularly sensitive management areas.

Such developments are considered "necessary small improvements" by their proponents. But they are disturbing eyesores which mar the environment and elicit the question, "How could this be allowed here?"

Drilling water wells is a speculative endeavor and Grantsville officials should continue their search for water.

But they should not do it on relatively pristine state forest land.

John Roemer IV

Parkton

Don't family values apply to Cubans?

If the Cuban boy Elian Gonzales and his father were citizens of this country, or of a nation in favor with Washington, there would be little doubt, even among posturing politicians, that he should be with his father.

Richard G Berman

Baltimore

I realize that the Republican presidential candidates need the votes of the Cuban exiles in Florida. But they should be ashamed about playing politics with the situation of Elian Gonzales and his father.

A father wants to be reunited with his son. This is the basic issue ignored in an attempt to pander to a particular segment of voters.

This is a true display of character, or the lack of it.

Stephan D. Howden

Annapolis

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