Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. yesterday asked a city Circuit Court judge to lift a stay blocking electricity deregulation for about 1 million residential consumers in the Baltimore area.
A hearing on the motion is set for 10:30 a.m. today before Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. The Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association, a New Jersey trade group representing power-producers, had already filed papers asking that the stay be kept in place.
Judge Matricciani issued the stay July 21, putting on hold an electricity-deregulation plan that affects customers in Baltimore and its five surrounding counties.
The stay was issued the day after the state's highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis, had lifted a stay of its own that had blocked the sweeping deregulation plan just hours before it was to take effect July 1.
The plan went into effect for most of the rest of the state, allowing consumers for the first time to choose their power provider.
In the court papers filed yesterday, BGE contends that the trade association, also known as MAPSA, is essentially trying to re-open a case that was already decided before the Public Service Commission in a lengthy series of public hearings. That's not permissible under the law, BGE contends.
"MAPSA may not now ask this court to re-try the issues," BGE said in its court papers.
In its filing, BGE also took issue with MAPSA's claims that the deregulation plan is a sham that precludes - instead of fosters - competition. MAPSA's claim that irreparable injury will occur if the deregulation plan is allowed to take effect is also false, BGE alleged.
Harm will be inflicted if the stay is kept in place, BGE said. That's because there's no legal way for the Maryland Public Service Commission to establish temporary rates until this matter is resolved.
The upshot: Baltimore-area consumers will be deprived of a planned six-year 6.5 percent rate reduction and won't have the right to choose their power provider, the utility said in its filing.
MAPSA disagrees with those arguments. It contends the court should put deregulation on hold until all the issues it has raised can be resolved. It has repeatedly argued that the deregulation plan gives BGE a protected position by enabling it to set its rates at levels so artificially low that rivals won't be able to match them and still make a profit.