Pipkin wants power deregulation inquiries restarted

February 06, 2007|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,Sun Reporter

A state senator who pushed last year for the Maryland Public Service Commission to reconsider electric deregulation and to pursue millions of dollars customers paid to BGE's parent company wants the commission to start those inquiries all over again - once Gov. Martin O'Malley appoints a new chairman for the panel.

Sen. E.J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, was one of the most outspoken critics of electric deregulation last year as lawmakers worked to mitigate BGE's anticipated 72 percent rate increase, and he was one of the first to call for PSC Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler to resign over his handling of the matter.

The General Assembly attempted to fire Schisler and the other commissioners through legislation last summer - the same piece of legislation requiring the studies Pipkin and others wanted - but Schisler successfully sued to keep his job.

Schisler, under threat of firing from the O'Malley administration, resigned last week. But in the months since the June special session, his PSC began studies of electric deregulation, the process by which BGE buys power and other issues.

Pipkin said that those studies need to be done again by a commission that takes consumers' interests into account.

"It was all done under the auspices of a commission that was looking at things in only one way," Pipkin said.

"Part of the purpose of [the original legislation] was to get a new set of eyes looking at this, a more balanced perspective between the consumer and the industry," he said.

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