Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 06, 2006

Let the market set our energy prices

Right now, here in Maryland, we are witnessing the very worst politicians have to offer with regard to the potential rise in electricity costs ("Utility, legislators not close on rates," April 4).

It all began seven years ago when the legislature, for good reason, decided that, to attract new energy producers into the state, the industry needed to be deregulated.

The only problem was that it wasn't really deregulated. The mandated price controls the legislation included undercut its intent. For obvious reasons, no additional energy producers came into the state.

Now demagogues are claiming that deregulation didn't work. What they ignore, of course, is that deregulation is only actually occurring now.

The potential energy price increases are the price to be paid for delaying the difficult part of deregulation for seven years.

And now, what is the solution offered by some legislators?

What else but de facto re-regulation and interference in contractual dealings among private companies.

The inevitable outcome of this pretty shocking ineptitude on the part of the legislature has been seen before in California: widespread brownouts.

Everything is more expensive than it was seven years ago, from a cup of coffee to a gallon of gasoline - especially the gasoline.

Only a fool would think that the buyer of electricity would be exempt from this trend.

In the face of this political challenge, there are fundamentally two solutions: Let prices rise to allow competition to develop, which would attenuate the price increases, or let the legislature intervene heavily in the process, despite the clear evidence of its inability to manage such things.

The former approach may be painful in the short term.

The latter would surely result in energy shortages and brownouts here in Maryland.

William R. Reid

North East

Revive regulation of Maryland utilities

Every citizen of Maryland should be contacting his or her elected officials and advising them that the insanity of a 72 percent electricity rate increase needs to be stopped ("Utility, legislators not close on rates," April 4).

Energy deregulation was a folly passed by politicians that has led us down the garden path toward destruction.

There are many folks in this state who simply do not have the disposable income to absorb this mega-increase. And for those who will be knocking on the door for state assistance, who do you think will be picking up that tab?

The taxpayers.

Thus we taxpayers may end up paying more than the 72 percent rate increase to assist those unable to squeeze another dime out of their shrinking checks and pensions.

I find this unacceptable.

Businesses need to make a profit; however, utilities should be limited as to their profit margins.

Our elected officials need to roll back the deregulation and ensure that the citizens of Maryland are not lining the pockets of greedy corporations.

Kathi Shaffer

Manchester

PSC must protect state's consumers

The deregulation of gas and electricity rates was a well-intentioned effort to create competition and eliminate Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s monopoly ("Republicans part ways on BGE," April 2).

But competition failed to materialize, and most Marylanders find themselves still buying energy from a monopoly.

Our only protection from a monopoly is governmental regulation by a trustworthy, unbiased Public Service Commission (PSC).

Sadly, and to the economic peril of many Marylanders, a trustworthy, unbiased commission has also failed to materialize - as recent PSC appointees have shamed themselves ("Panel acts to oust PSC members," March 28).

Alan Shecter

Baltimore

Turning school spat into a mere catfight?

The gigantic headline "Schoolyard Brawl" (April 2) in Sunday's Sun was ugly journalism.

Under that banner were "face-off" photos of Nancy S. Grasmick, the Maryland state superintendent of schools, and Bonnie S. Copeland, the CEO of Baltimore's public schools.

The photos show anguish on both women's faces. But The Sun's message seems to be that this is a "catfight."

It is disgraceful to portray either of these very intelligent and well-educated leaders in that fashion.

I would note that both of these public servants have achieved advanced degrees and both, in my personal experience, conduct themselves with professionalism, dignity and grace.

Larry Simpson

Baltimore

Blame game no cure for city school woes

I would like to commend The Sun for its recent articles on the challenges facing the Baltimore school system, especially "Few deny schools need change" (April 3).

Although it is clear that this proposed state schools takeover is a case of political posturing at its best, the one positive result has been increased attention to the education of our city's young people.

Unfortunately, we stand to squander this opportunity by playing an all-too-familiar round of the blame game.

Instead, we all must take responsibility for the failures of this system.

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