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By Larry Carson and Larry Carson,Staff Writer | May 18, 1993
In a move sure to please many of Baltimore County's community associations, County Executive Roger B. Hayden promoted Deputy People's Counsel Peter Max Zimmerman, who has held the post for the past 16 years, to head that sensitive office.Current People's Counsel Phyllis Cole Friedman is leaving the post June 1.Mr. Hayden also said yesterday that he is committed to keeping at least two lawyers in the politically independent office. Two years ago, Mr. Hayden proposed eliminating the deputy people's counsel position as a budget-cutting move.
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BUSINESS
By Liz Kay, The Baltimore Sun | July 21, 2010
The Office of the People's Counsel has recently revamped its website to help Marylanders keep track of upcoming hearings of the state's top utility regulator. The People's Counsel represents consumer interests in utility matters at hearings before the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Maryland General Assembly. The redesigned site, at http://www.opc.state.md.us , also offers tips for consumers with brochures about shopping for an electricity supplier, getting help paying utility bills and more.
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BUSINESS
By Dan Thanh Dang and Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF | June 21, 2002
After several complaints from local businesses and consumer advocates, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. is proposing to keep its downtown bill payment center open for another year to give its customers time to adjust to the center's eventual closing. In a letter filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission late Wednesday, BGE said the payment center at its West Lexington Street headquarters will remain in operation until July 1 next year but that an Eastpoint Mall payment site will close at the end of the month as scheduled.
BUSINESS
By Liz F. Kay and Liz F. Kay,liz.kay@baltsun.com | November 21, 2009
Critics of a revised settlement agreement that would resolve outstanding issues with Verizon say state regulators should not deregulate any telephone services. "Maryland can do better than this deal with Verizon," said Rion Dennis, political director of Progressive Maryland. The original agreement was negotiated by Verizon, the staff of the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Office of the People's Counsel, which represents consumers. It tackled several concerns before the commissioners, including complaints from customers who were left without service for long periods and the prices that consumers pay to maintain local calling rates to a different geographical area.
BUSINESS
By Lorraine Mirabella and Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF | October 7, 2003
A former prosecutor who has represented environmental interests, Baltimore City police and the poor was appointed yesterday by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to be the next people's counsel. Patricia Anne Smith, 51, is to take over tomorrow as the head of the Office of People's Counsel, which represents residential consumers of electric, natural gas and telephone services. Smith, now an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University, replaces Michael J. Travieso, a Democratic appointee who held the post for nearly a decade before being ousted by the Ehrlich administration in August.
BUSINESS
By Timothy J. Mullaney and Timothy J. Mullaney,SUN STAFF | December 29, 1995
The state Public Service Commission yesterday made one of the key decisions to pave the way for free competition in local phone service, ruling on how much other companies will have to pay Bell Atlantic Corp. for the use of the traditional local phone monopoly's network of wires and switches to handle calls.The decision in the obscure but hard-fought rate case drew initial praise from the state People's Counsel, the agency that represents consumers' interests in utility matters before the commission.
BUSINESS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | February 16, 1996
The Maryland Office of People's Counsel, arguing that "Maryland ratepayers are entitled to significant rate reductions," urged the state Public Service Commission yesterday to cut Bell Atlantic Corp.'s phone charges by $232 million.If the commission agrees, the People's Counsel's motion would lead to an estimated 23 percent across-the-board cut in basic phone rates, toll calls and long-distance access charges, said Theresa Czarski, assistant to People's Counsel Michael Travieso.But before consumers start spending the extra $3.80 or so that they would realize each month, they should realize that the PSC seldom gives the People's Counsel everything it wants.
BUSINESS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | February 17, 1996
Dealing what could be a serious blow to Bell Atlantic Corp., the Maryland Public Service Commission's professional staff has recommended that the PSC cut the company's phone rates by $97.2 million and adopt tough controls on prices and services as its price for deregulating earnings.In toughly worded testimony filed late Thursday, the staff said Bell Atlantic's plan for switching to a "price cap" form of regulation "virtually guarantees increases each and every year" after a one-year freeze.
NEWS
By Larry Carson and Larry Carson,SUN STAFF | July 18, 2000
Two bills that would create a "zoning counsel" and a hearing officer for the Howard County Board of Appeals drew broad support last night at a County Council public hearing in Ellicott City. Speakers, however, urged the four council members to strengthen both proposals to give the positions more power than is currently in the legislation. Councilman C. Vernon Gray was attending the annual convention of the National Association of Counties, of which he was president for the past year, in North Carolina.
NEWS
By Larry Carson and Larry Carson,SUN STAFF | August 15, 2000
Ed Walter's quest to let Howard County voters decide in November whether to create a full-fledged people's counsel fell short yesterday, but he's not giving up. He collected 3,114 signatures in seven weeks, far fewer than the 10,000 registered voters needed to place the issue on the ballot, he said. But now he's aiming for the 2002 election. "I think we would have come up with enough signatures if we had more time. The early deadline and the late start did us in," he said. The deadline for filing a petition was yesterday.
BUSINESS
By Hanah Cho and Hanah Cho,hanah.cho@baltsun.com | October 3, 2009
Maryland energy regulators extended hearings Friday on Constellation Energy Group's proposed nuclear joint venture with a French utility, likely delaying yet again a decision on the fate of the deal. Additional hearings are scheduled for Oct. 14, and Oct. 15 if necessary. That means it's unlikely that the Public Service Commission will make a decision by its Oct. 16 deadline, even though the commission has tried to accommodate the companies' concerns over the timeliness of the deal's closing.
NEWS
June 18, 2009
Constellation-EDF review essential The Sun's editorial on the proposed Constellation Energy Group-Electricit? de France deal reflects a misunderstanding of the law and the facts ("Separate politics, power," June 14). The Sun chooses to view this legal dispute as a dispute between Gov. Martin O'Malley and Constellation and ignores the fact that other parties are in this case, and they independently came to the same conclusion - that the proposed transaction is subject to regulatory scrutiny under Maryland law. The Office of the People's Counsel, the state of Maryland and the Public Service Commission's technical staff all reviewed the evidence, consulted independent experts and concluded that the proposed Constellation-EDF transaction would result in EDF acquiring the ability to exercise "substantial influence" over Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. If the deal goes through, EDF will have a larger investment in Constellation than all of Constellation's other shareholders put together.
BUSINESS
March 28, 2009
Assembly panel OKs Verizon settlement A House of Delegates committee has unanimously approved a bill directing state regulators to approve an agreement with Verizon about delayed repairs and deregulation of some bundled telephone services. The settlement, negotiated by Verizon, the Maryland Public Service Commission staff and the Office of the People's Counsel, calls for the company to pay $1 million to customers with repair complaints, increase some fees and lower others for regional telephone service, and deregulate some bundled products.
BUSINESS
By DAN THANH DANG | June 15, 2008
Frank Margolis doesn't think his Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. bill is nearly steep enough. Intent on finding a way to pay the utility more than what he is billed every month, the 70-year-old professor e-mailed me a few weeks ago for help. This is not a request I get every day. Margolis was chatting recently with a colleague who was complaining bitterly about utility bills that topped $400 to $500 a month. Margolis went home to dig out his own June statement - $111. Upon closer examination, Margolis noticed that BGE had failed to charge him at all for the amount of electricity he used.
NEWS
By Paul Adams and Paul Adams,Sun Staff | March 18, 2007
Paula M. Carmody recently stepped into the role of people's counsel at what may prove a watershed moment for Maryland's residential utility customers. The state's Public Service Commission is in the midst of a sweeping review of electric deregulation rules that critics contend contributed to a 72 percent rate hike for customers of Baltimore Gas & Electric last year. As the state's chief advocate for utility customers, the new people's counsel is charged with pressing the commission to adopt changes that will take the sting out of future utility bills.
BUSINESS
By Paul Adams and Paul Adams,Sun reporter | January 6, 2007
Maryland People's Counsel Patricia A. Smith, the state's top advocate for utility customers, left her post yesterday after a three-year tenure that culminated in legislation demanding her firing amid debate over rising electric rates. Under Smith, the Office of the People's Counsel called for changes in electric deregulation laws and pursued an investigation into a 72 percent rate increase for customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. last spring. But the former prosecutor was accused by many lawmakers of not doing enough to protect consumers before and after the rate increase was announced.
BUSINESS
By Dan Thanh Dang and Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF | January 25, 2002
The Maryland Public Service Commission reaffirmed its commitment yesterday to electric deregulation and customer choice - allowing residential customers to choose an alternative power supplier. The PSC statement was a response to a Jan. 16 report from the Office of the People's Counsel that said 18 months of deregulation had produced little in the way of competition or new services. Until there are options and clear consumer benefits, the OPC report recommended, the Maryland General Assembly should consider suspending electricity choice for the state's 1.8 million residential customers who could face higher prices when rate caps begin expiring in about two years.
BUSINESS
By Hanah Cho and Hanah Cho,hanah.cho@baltsun.com | October 3, 2009
Maryland energy regulators extended hearings Friday on Constellation Energy Group's proposed nuclear joint venture with a French utility, likely delaying yet again a decision on the fate of the deal. Additional hearings are scheduled for Oct. 14, and Oct. 15 if necessary. That means it's unlikely that the Public Service Commission will make a decision by its Oct. 16 deadline, even though the commission has tried to accommodate the companies' concerns over the timeliness of the deal's closing.
BUSINESS
By Paul Adams and Paul Adams,Sun reporter | November 16, 2006
Consumer advocates who say electric deregulation should be revamped in the face of rising rates will face off against pro-competition utility officials today in the first of several regulatory hearings to examine the future structure of Maryland's power industry. The Public Service Commission hearings will be the most sweeping probe of the industry since deregulation was passed in 1999, and could lead to changes that will influence consumer bills for decades to come. The examination was first requested by the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel this past spring and subsequently mandated by lawmakers, who passed legislation in June to deal with a 72 percent rate increase for customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric.
NEWS
By ANDREW A. GREEN AND KELLY BREWINGTON and ANDREW A. GREEN AND KELLY BREWINGTON,SUN REPORTERS | June 21, 2006
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. heard hours of testimony yesterday about whether he should veto a General Assembly plan to defer most of BGE's looming 72 percent rate increase for nearly a year, with analysts, experts, community leaders and homeowners arguing both sides in the most visible discussion yet of how large electric bills should be for more than a million utility customers. The unusual public hearing was televised live on Maryland Public Television and broadcast on the Internet by two Baltimore television stations.
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