Constellation Asks Court To Let Suit Against Md. Continue

July 14, 2009|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,hanah.cho@baltsun.com

Constellation Energy Group appealed Monday a court ruling dismissing the utility's lawsuit accusing Maryland regulators of overstepping their authority in investigating a deal to sell half its nuclear power business to a French utility.

The legal move before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals comes a week after a Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled that it is premature for Constellation to challenge a continuing review process under the Maryland Public Service Commission. Judge Stuart R. Berger did not rule on the merits of Constellation's argument that the regulatory review is not required under state law.

"We are simply preserving our legal rights in the future," Constellation spokesman Rob Gould said.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's office, which had been seeking rate relief and other concessions in behind-the-scenes discussions that have stalled in recent weeks, expressed disappointment in Constellation's move.

"It's a shame that Constellation continues to oppose a public interest inquiry by the Public Service Commission," O'Malley's spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese, said. "It's disappointing especially given the fact that the PSC has acted in good faith to establish an expedited hearing schedule to meet Constellation's self-imposed deadline for the EDF deal."

Raquel M. Guillory, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general, said that office would fight the appeal.

The legal battle stemmed from the PSC's decision to determine whether Constellation's $4.5 billion transaction with Electrcite de France is in the public interest for the deal to go forward. Constellation, the parent of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., the region's largest utility, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the PSC ruling.

The PSC has established a review schedule to try to issue its ruling by Sept. 17, which Constellation says is the deadline for the transaction to be completed.

Hearings are scheduled to begin Aug. 19.

Sun reporter Laura Smitherman contributed to this article.

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