The Marc Steiner Show

06/06/07 BGE and rate increases

So we all know that electricity rates went up on June 1st.

Some people say, “Yeah, this sucks, but electricity costs what it costs because that is what it costs!”

What if that isn’t true?

The Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes says that this is NOT true–that the rates we are now paying do NOT reflect the reality of what energy costs.  And furthermore, they are accusing some political leaders and officials of collusion-going so far as to request that State’s Attorney Pat Jessamy investigate Governor Martin O’Malley for collusion with BGE and acceptance of bribes from BGE/Constellation Energy.

We’ll speak with Delegate Jill Carter, who is calling for a special session to deal with these rate increases.  Chris Bush from the above-mentioned coalition will be joining us, as will Rob Gould of Constellation Energy and Marc Case from BGE. 

Join us on the air, through email, or on the blog. 

-Jessica Phillips

Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday thru Friday from 10AM to Noon on WEAA 88.9 FM. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Call us at 410.319.8888 or email us to participate live in the show, or share your comments on our site! Aren’t in Baltimore but want to listen? Stream the show live.


Comments

  1. Dear Ms. Phillips:

    The ill-conceived, downright stupid, and short-sighted decision to deregulate electricity in Maryland should be reversed for the long term health of Maryland’s economy. Like water and air, electricity is indispensable to a modern economy and its constituents.

    The decision to deregulate electrical supply was short-sighted because it came at a time when the price of oil and natural gas were low and cheap. Who could have foreseen that fuel prices would rise again? Anyone who knows the recent history of oil prices. We have known since the 1970s that the world’s oil production would peak and would decline as demand increases. The peak has already happened.

    In Maryland, most electrical plants are still nuclear, coal, hydro, and wind.
    Nuclear, hydro, and wind are all renewable sources and we have some 500 years worth of coal in the mountains just west of us. Over the long haul, this means stable and relatively low prices which is exactly what we need. We need NOT be vulnerable to the whims of the international oil and natural gas market. We should be insulated from those shocks at least in terms of electrical supply.

    Deregulation made us vulnerable.

    Regulation of municipal and regional power companies also means that they cannot (or should not anyway) pollute our environment and ruin the health of our children (and adults) without consequences.

    Regulation also limits the profit of the energy supplier and company
    shareholders. Constellation and Exxon and most other energy companies are posting record profits on the backs of consumers. If they were regulated, they simply couldn’t get away with it.

    Deregulation of the electrical supply market has NOT NOT NOT resulted in:

    a. lower or stable prices for the consumer
    b. greater electrical supply
    c. technological innovation
    d. fewer black and brown outs
    e. increased competition and diversification of suppliers
    f. cleaner air
    e. increased capacity or electrical supply

    A survey of regulated versus deregulated electrical markets shows that the
    states that have deregulated have the highest electrical supply rates–in some
    cases doubled which flies in the face of your contention that over the long
    haul it doesn’t make a difference.

    The decision was ill-conceived because of the price caps. Competition didn’t
    come to Maryland because they couldn’t make a profit. True, but so what? As a
    consumer, I could care less if a company from Florida wants but can’t supply
    electricity in Maryland because it can’t make a decent profit for its
    executives here.

    Currently, there are more than one natural gas suppliers in the BGE service
    area. I switched to Econergy. It should be called the British Enron. Over a
    two year period, Econergy’s rates were on average significantly higher and
    unstable. They fooled me once. I am not going back.

    With nationwide deregulation, prices will continue to do two things:

    a. They will increase slightly so that the power companies can generate
    profits for their executives and shareholders. As their profits and price
    structures will be unregulated and are or will become regional monopolies,
    their profits will be quite high as demand for electricity is highly
    inelastic. Only a deregulated electric monopoly like Constellation Energy
    could encourage its customers to consume less. It still stands to make a
    big profit either way.

    b. If residents of regulated states foolishly choose to deregulate in areas where electrical supply
    traditionally has been locally produced and abundant and cheap such as the
    Pacific Northwest and Appalachia, they will see their rates go up until they
    reach “market rates”. Some high cost energy states like Florida that have no
    natural resources MIGHT see their rates come slightly down.

    Reregulation can be done as we have seen in Virginia (a much more conservative and pro-business state than Maryland) and it doesn’t have to be a risky venture as we have seen in Virginia.

    In the 21st Century, electricity is just as important (if not critical) to
    every modern person as water. We can function economically without oil but not
    electricity.

    Unfortunately, cheaper electricity or water cannot be imported from Botswana, China, or Bangladesh;
    and we don’t want Saudi princes or Russian mafiosos controlling or our electrical or water supply which could happen in a deregulated energy market.

    Sincerely,

    L B Van Dyck

  2. Evidently, the coalition’s accusations (of collusion) are not limited to “political leaders and officials”. I personally thought Marc did a swell job today defending himself against the coalition’s rep you had on the show. Maybe aside from the deferral plan BGE has made available, they should offer *special* rates to coalition members. Or at least make an exception for the particularly belligerent member who graced the airwaves today.

  3. “particularly belligerent”….that’s a nice way of putting it. Chris Bush was a raving lunatic who did NOTHING to further the cause! As soon as he started attacking Marc I was wishing WYPR would pull the plug on him. If Chris is the coalition spokesperson then the people have lost. I certainly want nothing to do with them.

  4. State Delegate Jill Carter is on point. She is a rare representative that truly understands her responsibility to put the people first. I find it shameful and sad that more state reps are not supportive of her position because she is absolutely correct. After listening to her and the rhetoric from BGE officials, I’m convinced that ConstelBGE is not telling the whole truth and the legislature should stop them from screwing us. Keep in mind: it doesn’t stop at the the 50% increase, it is sure to go up even more next year unless they take action now.

  5. 1.) The BGE fiasco is about the corruption of Constellation and our politicians, NOT Chris Bush. Bush may be loud and a bit rambunctious, but deregulation is a farce.

    Also, there is nothing wrong with Bush pointing out that Constellation underwrites YPR. Why is YPR taking Constellation money with all that is going on right now politically?

  6. Many organizations are playing a role in this BGE debacle and protecting some while letting others get hit is hardly being objective for this kind of program. Chris Bush gave a cogent argument for why Maryland PIRG deserves criticism. They turned 180 on the rate hikes just as O’Malley did once elected. To criticize the critic is a tactic of the weak.

    We know O’Malley lied. Why pretend otherwise?

    It was clear that Mr. Bush knew even more than BGE’s own VP, as he answered a caller’s question that the BGE hacks didn’t have a clue about. His command of numbers and analysis of the problem (and solution) was refreshing. Sure, he was brash and had the ‘nerve’ to even challenge Marc when Marc brought it up himself about WYPR’s financial connections to Constellation/BGE.
    Isn’t that what this kind of talk radio should be about? Does it have to be as easily censored as a right wing show, where the guests are personally attacked for making uncomfortable arguments? I was almost waiting for Marc to pull an O’Reilly and say “Shut Up.”
    This is a very clear issue. BGE is screwing the ratepayers. There are 2 sides. Those who side with BGE and the rate increase, and those who fight it (NOW), not just last year.

    This is also a political issue. What can be done in a General Assembly can be undone. Our elected officials choose the easy path of inaction.

    To all: Which side are you on?
    Myles

  7. Anid,

    I’d be happy if everyone got a rate CUT back to the rates in effect prior to July 1, 2006. Including you.

    Anne,

    Usually the word “stark” is a modifier along with “raving lunatic”, as in “stark raving lunatic”.

    By the way, Marc Steiner misled you folks: when he indicated that there was “no evidence” regarding the ability for the PSC to use 6 statutes in place to stop the rate theft. The PSC itself, in its executive summary, does cite “evidence” that the market was indeed manipulated by Constellation/BGE.

  8. Price of petroleum goes down but electricity prices goes up where is the bloody logic? It seems that electricity prices will go up regardless of the market forces.

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