PSC begins power regulation hearings

Legislators demanded a review of rules

November 17, 2006|By Paul Adams | Paul Adams,Sun Reporter

The Maryland Public Service Commission began hearings yesterday in a case that consumer groups hope will lead to changes in how electric utilities buy power from wholesale suppliers, resulting in more stable rates for customers in years to come.

The sweeping review of deregulation rules was demanded by lawmakers who were trying to deal with a 72 percent rate increase for customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. last summer.

Critics say regulations that in some years require utilities to buy 100 percent of their power supply over a three-month period put customers at risk for price spikes.

Industry officials and consumer advocates sparred yesterday over a range of proposals to prevent future rate spikes, including a utility plan to spread power purchases over three years.

The Maryland People's Counsel, which advocates for consumers, favors even longer-term planning as a means for keeping prices stable. Others have proposed much shorter power purchase contracts, reasoning that it will spur retail competition.

The hearings will continue today and culminate with a report to lawmakers by Dec. 31.

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