Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 21, 2006

Democrats deserve blame for price hike

As Maryland waits for a 72 percent increase in its electricity bills, the Democratic Party is quick to place blame in its attempts at damage control ("Scrambling for energy plan," March 20).

The General Assembly leadership as well as the state Democratic Party are quick to point at Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

It seems as though the Democrats have forgotten how this situation came to be.

Did they forget that it was under the leadership of the prior governor that, in 1999, the Democratic-led Assembly crafted a bill that was supposed to increase competition and lead to lower prices?

Little did they know what forces they had set in motion.

Now, instead of trying to place blame where it does not belong, the Democratic leadership should be working with the governor to come up with a plan that will mitigate the hardship many citizens of Maryland will feel.

But the Democratic spin-masters will continue weaving their misinformation and the fighting will continue in Annapolis.

Let's hope that somehow the truth will come out and that Marylanders will be able to sort fact from fiction.

Paul Bunting

Arbutus

BGE still benefits from deal with state

Constellation CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III says Constellation Energy is "a separate company from Baltimore Gas and Electric ... built ... over the past five years from scratch" ("Constellation's CEO defends rates, merger," March 12).

Yet a look back shows this is not quite the case. In fact, in the 1999 General Assembly, it was consumer advocates from the Office of the People's Counsel and the Maryland Public Interest Research Group who argued that Constellation should be required to bid for BGE's power plants on the open market just like any other "separate" power company.

In 1999, however, Constellation didn't want to be "separate" just yet. Part of its vast lobbying effort went to defeat that pro-consumer proposal, and the company ultimately got BGE's power plants for a song in a no-bid paper shuffle.

Thus, one reason Constellation is so profitable is precisely because it did not start "from scratch" in the rough-and-tumble electricity market.

It started by getting extremely cheap power plants (including several old, highly polluting coal-burning plants) courtesy of the General Assembly. Constellation then used those cheap power plants to make huge profits selling electricity at market rates.

So now that BGE's ratepayers are about to get socked by the very market forces Constellation avoided in 1999 (and has benefited from ever since), the very least state lawmakers can do this year is to require it to share some of the wealth the General Assembly handed it seven years ago.

Daniel J. Pontious

Baltimore

The writer was director of the Maryland Public Interest Research Group when the electricity deregulation bill was passed in 1999.

Return to regulation of electricity market

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch are discussing "innovative" options to solve the problem of a planned 72 percent rate increase for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers ("Governor offers $25 million to ease BGE rates," March 17). I hope one of these options is re-regulation.

If the legislature voted in 1999 to deregulate, presumably there was the possibility of the vote going the other way.

In fact, since the General Assembly voted for deregulation "expecting it to spur competition and bring prices down for consumers" ("15% cap on rate rise gains favor," March 15), the implication is that they would have voted against deregulation if they had known then what we know now - that it didn't work.

So let's have another vote.

This seems like a no-brainer: You try something, it fails miserably, you stop doing it.

Evelyn Elizabeth

Dundalk

PSC isn't protecting the public's interest

With the Public Service Commission in bed with the utility companies, who will protect the people's interest ("PSC head, lobbyist shared strategy," March 18)?

Compliments of our governor, the PSC is currently dominated by people from the industry it is supposed to regulate.

The governor's policy permits robbery without a gun.

The chairman of the PSC should be fired immediately. In November, we the public can fire the governor.

David L. Pollitt

Forest Hill

Peacemakers strive to love our enemies

The Christian Peacemakers do not believe, as Cal Thomas suggests we do, that "evil people will be nice to us if we are nice to them" ("The execution of a `peace activist,'" Opinion * Commentary, March 15).

We do believe that Jesus meant what he said when he told His followers, "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked" (Luke 6:35).

Christian Peacemaker Teams agrees with Cal Thomas when he says, "Evil cannot be accommodated. Evil must be defeated if peace on Earth is to exist."

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