Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 05, 2006

Deregulation fails state's consumers

The Sun's excellent reporting on electricity prices contrasts sharply with its editorial "Your electricity bill" (Feb. 26), which inexplicably advises Maryland's electric ratepayers to be prepared to accept vastly higher electricity prices.

The Sun reasons that 40 percent to 80 percent increases in the cost of electricity are rational because the prices that were frozen in 1999 at their 1993 level, then cut 6.5 percent, are a "pretty good deal."

That's flawed logic - the 1993 prices were excessive to begin with, and the 1999 prices are still demonstrably excessive.

For example, the 1999 prices reflected excessive capital costs for the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant. They did not recognize a 20-year license extension Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. had requested for that plant. The license extension, granted immediately following the price freeze, reduced costs at Calvert Cliffs.

The Sun's discussion of the pending $11 billion merger also passes up fundamental common-sense questions and solutions.

For instance, an original premise of deregulation was that if deregulation failed (as it did in California), Maryland could resume regulation of the plants.

The imminent price spike addressed in the editorial suggests that deregulation has failed in Maryland. The solution is for the General Assembly to resume regulation of the plants before any other company buys them.

Finally, The Sun's editorial asserts that certain organizations will use the merger hearings to "examine whether Marylanders could end up paying for utility damage from Florida hurricanes."

As one who was directly involved in several storm damage cases in Florida, I can assure readers that Florida Power & Light does not need Marylanders to pay for hurricane damage; it is already charging its own ratepayers more than necessary for those costs.

Michael J. Majoros Jr.

Millersville

The writer is an economic consultant who represents utility ratepayers.

Leaders must stop rise in energy costs

I am concerned about the coming Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. electricity rate increase and the impact it will have on the people of our community ("Lawmakers wary of merger," Feb. 28).

People already have to make tough choices because of the rising costs of gasoline and natural gas. All deregulation of the utility industries seems to have done is helped the major corporations gain power and wealth while dragging the regular workers and families to the brink of poverty.

Big companies have once again triumphed over the people and are getting ready to finish the damage they have done with gasoline and natural gas price increases in recent years.

Why don't our lawmakers step in and do something about it? Why don't our representatives help protect the people they are sworn to represent?

I don't care what political party they represent - our representatives have failed us.

The people are tired and beaten, and we worry how we will pay our bills.

We need our representatives to stand up for us against the money-hungry corporations.

John P. McConnell

Baltimore

It's time to repeal the city's phone tax

With the city projecting a surplus for the second year in a row, it's time for Baltimore's citizens to press Mayor Martin O'Malley and the City Council to repeal the phone tax the city began in 2004 ("City sees surplus ahead for 2nd year," March 2).

As readers will recall, the mayor argued at the time that the new tax was urgently needed to offset a projected $40 million deficit as well as to prevent layoffs of essential personnel such as firefighters and police officers.

If the city's desire is to use the surplus to fund "quality of life initiatives," why not let its residents keep their $3.50 a month (or more, for those of us on family plans) and prop up the city's economy by enjoying a better quality of life at Baltimore's restaurants, bars and tourist attractions?

Bill Ballantyne

Baltimore

Bush fully briefed on hurricane threat

The Sun's editorial "He didn't ask anything" (March 3) is critical of President Bush because the president did not ask questions during an Aug. 28 teleconference regarding Hurricane Katrina.

George Stephanopoulos reported on this item last week and responded to the point raised in the editorial.

He noted that it was the president's second teleconference of the day. In an earlier teleconference, the president had been actively engaged.

Further, the president had numerous individual telephone conversations between the first teleconference and the second one.

In short, Mr. Stephanopoulos reported that the president was well-briefed on the issues before the second teleconference was held, so there was no need for the president to ask more questions.

I am not writing to defend or condemn the president. That is not the issue.

Instead, I am writing to say that I think The Sun misled its readers.

I do understand that editorials are the paper's opinions. However, in this instance, it seems The Sun based its opinion on incomplete facts.

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