Lawmaker Pushes Summit as Utility Rate Spike Nears; Legislation Calls for Re-Regulation

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

Lawmaker Pushes Summit as Utility Rate Spike Nears; Legislation Calls for Re-Regulation


Byline: Tom LoBianco, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A Maryland lawmaker is calling for a summit to evaluate the utility rate increases due later this week and has filed legislation to re-regulate the state's energy industry.

Delegate Patrick L. McDonough, Baltimore County Republican, said yesterday that he will ask fellow lawmakers to return to Annapolis to review Maryland energy laws, while Baltimore Gas and Electric customers prepare for a 50 percent rate increase due Friday.

"I would like to do this as soon as possible," he said. "This is where you sacrifice, this is where you're a public servant. There's been a lack of leadership on this issue in the General Assembly."

Mr. McDonough wants to assemble a group of advisers on energy deregulation to address the lawmakers. He wants the summit held in the House chamber and taped by Maryland Public Television, as are key General Assembly hearings.

He plans to send letters to his 187 colleagues in the House and Senate this week.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved the increase last week after holding public hearings since last month.

In the agency's report, the commissioners acknowledged having little legal ground to set prices because of a deregulation plan passed by state lawmakers in 1999 that capped rates.

"The commission determines that, based on the facts and the law presented in this proceeding, it has little choice but to approve the proposed increase," the commissioners wrote.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, campaigned heavily last year on promises of rate relief and apologized to energy customers last week, saying the commission was unable to fulfill those promises. …

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