Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Ehrlich, Elections, and Electricity Reprise

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I have been thinking it and started a post on it.  Then the MD GOP sent this out.  I could not have said it any better.

O’Malley yelled at the top of his lungs on the looming 72% electric rate increases (despite the fact that Ehrlich had nothing to do with it except try to fix it then O’Malley blew that apart).  Now the O’Malley is singing from the same sheet of music as the Ehrlich Administration sang from.  Thing is O’Malley had a copy of the sheet of music before the election because he knew he would have to use it himself.

Now perhaps O’Malley is looking at the $23.7M in taxes that BGE paid to Maryland in 2006 (not to mention Constellation Energy’s state tax bill).  Since a great deal of this tax bill is based upon gross receipts (some is based on property and other items) perhaps Mr. O’Malley sees this as a hidden tax to help with the State’s revenue problems.

Maybe County Executive Ulman will push forward his energy co-op plan.  For those of you waiting for me to bash Mr. Ulman I am not being tongue in cheek –  I am serious.

 ————————————————

DESPITE PROMISES TO “STOP THE RATE HIKES,” ELECTRIC RATES ARE GOING UP BY OVER 50% ON JUNE 1ST

THEN – Candidate O’Malley Promised Immediate Relief From Electric Rate Hikes.  “Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown will work to provide immediate relief from the impending rate hikes for our families, small businesses and the most vulnerable in our communities.”  (O’Malley Campaign Web site, http://www.martinomalley.com/content/591, accessed May 28, 2007)

THEN – Candidate O’Malley Promised To “Stop The Rate Hikes.”  “‘The special interests already have their governor – we need one of our own,’ says a voice-over in the mayor’s commercial. ‘Martin O’Malley: taking on BGE to stop the rate hikes.’”  (David Abrams, “Politicos jockey for credit on BGE rate deal,” The Capital, 6/25/06)(emphasis added)

NOW – Governor O’Malley Announced His Hand-Picked Public Service Commission Has Approved The Largest Electric Rate Increase in Maryland History – Going Up Over 50% For The Average BGE Customer on June 1st.  “It is with reluctance, but with little legal option, that the Commission in this Order approves the approximately 50 percent rate increase resulting from a pass-through of supply costs proposed by BGE for its electric residential customers receiving its Standard Offer Service.”  (Public Service Commission Order, 5/23/07)

Ø      SENIORS AND LOW-INCOME FAMILIES FORGOTTEN

THEN – Candidate O’Malley Promised To Protect Seniors and Low-Income Families From Any Electric Rate Increase.  “O’Malley will also work to ensure that all residents are automatically enrolled in the shock absorber plan, and not be subject to an opt-in provision that disproportionately harms seniors and low-income Marylanders.” (O’Malley Campaign Web site, http://www.martinomalley.com/content/591 , accessed May 28, 2007)

NOW – The O’Malley Administration Says There Is Nothing They Can Do To Help Seniors and Low-Income Families.  “[Public Service] Commission Chairman Steven B. Larsen said he had concerns about the effect of the increase on people with low incomes, but he said the commission had no legal basis to deny the increase as Maryland transitions to market prices after years of capped rates.”  (John Wagner and Avis Thomas-Lester, “BGE Customers to Face Heftier Energy Bills in June,” Washington Post, 5/24/07)

In Contrast, Governor Bob Ehrlich Reached Agreement For Over $600 Million In Assistance For Marylanders Hit Hardest By An Electric Rate Increase, But A Lawsuit From O’Malley Killed The Deal.  “ Due to Baltimore City’s interference, more than one million Marylanders were saddled last week with an electric rate stabilization plan that includes far less assistance than the plan negotiated with Baltimore Gas & Electric and Constellation Energy in April and includes no concessions whatsoever from energy companies for working families. This unfortunate development resulted from the Baltimore City Administration’s lawsuit against the Public Service Commission, which had previously approved a plan that offered customers far more assistance…I introduced a plan that reflected our basic agreement and included $600 million in cash relief from Constellation Energy for working families to help offset the large rate increase resulting from the flawed 1999 deregulation law. The City’s lawsuit effectively voided these benefits and stuck working families with a plan that benefits energy companies more than customers.” (Governor Robert Ehrlich, Letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, 6/5/06)Ø      CONSUMER ADVOCATES NOT APPOINTED TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

THEN – Candidate O’Malley Promised to Replace the Public Service Commission With Advocates For Consumers.  “Replace PSC Members: Install Advocate for Consumers in Negotiations. O’Malley will support measures that will immediately get new, independent, competent regulators on the job – replacing the existing industry-dominated PSC.”  (O’Malley Campaign Web site, http://www.martinomalley.com/content/591, accessed May 28, 2007)

  • Candidate O’Malley Accused PSC Of Not Doing Enough To Shield Consumers From Rate Increases.  “Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democratic candidate for governor, yesterday called for commission Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler to resign, saying he and other Ehrlich appointees aren’t doing enough to shield consumers from the rate increases.” (Andrew Green, “Former industry leaders regulating state utilities,” Baltimore Sun, 3/14/06)

NOW – Governor O’Malley Appointed Public Service Commissioners With No History of Consumer Activism.  “(Governor O’Malley) named two commissioners (to fill vacant slots) who lack a history of zealous consumer activism.”  (Barry Rascovar, “O’Malley’s reality check: Power has limits,” The Gazette, 2/23/07)

  • New Chairman Has No Background in Utility Regulation.  “O’Malley’s choice for PSC chairman, Steve Larsen, has no background in utility regulation, which mocks the governor’s pledge to select commissioners with expertise in this arcane and complex field.”  (Barry Rascovar, “O’Malley’s reality check: Power has limits,” The Gazette, 2/23/07)
  • Former Commissioner Who Approved The Failed 1999 Deregulation Plan Added To PSC.  “(Governor O’Malley’s) other ‘new’ commissioner, Suzanne Brogan, is actually a retread and was one of the members who approved electric rate deregulation in 1999 — a move O’Malley and other Democrats loudly denounced as anti-consumer.”  (Barry Rascovar, “O’Malley’s reality check: Power has limits,” The Gazette, 2/23/07)
  • Constellation Energy Executive Re-Appointed To PSC.  “To top off his PSC moves, (Governor O’Malley) reappointed Harold Williams to another five-year term, even though he worked nearly 20 years for the Evil Empire of state utilities, Constellation Energy.”  (Barry Rascovar, “O’Malley’s reality check: Power has limits,” The Gazette, 2/23/07)

Ø      O’MALLEY HAS FAILED TO ACT

THEN – Candidate O’Malley Criticized Then-Governor Ehrlich For Allegedly Failing to Act.  “O’Malley said the governor and the PSC members he appointed failed to act and hold hearings as they should have to hold down BGE rates. ‘The governor should have stepped up and done something,’ O’Malley said.”  (Len Lazarick, “Ehrlich, O’Malley debate electric rates, PSC,” The Examiner Washington, Sept. 15, 2006)

NOW – Governor O’Malley Has Failed To Act.  “ During last year’s campaign, O’Malley accused the commission, which then had a majority of Ehrlich appointees, of ‘rubber-stamping’ BGE’s rate request. Yesterday, the tables were turned.  ‘O’Malley’s pledge to hold the line on rate increases and help working families was a false campaign promise,’ state GOP Chairman James Pelura said in a statement.  ‘His lack of visibility on this issue shows he will do and say whatever it takes to get elected.’”  (John Wagner and Avis Thomas-Lester, “BGE Customers to Face Heftier Energy Bills in June,” Washington Post, 5/24/07)

NOW – On June 1st, Electric Rates Will Go Up By 50% For BGE Customers.  “State officials reluctantly approved a 50 percent rate increase yesterday for the 1.1 million residential customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., saying they had “little legal option” to defer or reduce the utility company’s proposal.  The increase goes into effect June 1.”  (Brian Witte, “Officials Approve BGE’s Increase,” Washington Times, 5/24/07)(emphasis added)

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8 Responses to “Ehrlich, Elections, and Electricity Reprise”

  1. Roscoe said

    In 1998 the Maryland Democrat Party set in motion De-Regulation of Maryland’s utilities, included in this scheme to profit Maryland utilities, were rate caps. The 72% increase that our new Governor said “Would not stand” is now being implemented. Interestingly Baltimore County gave the new Gov 60,000 votes towards his victory over Governor Ehrich. Effectively they voted themselves a rate increase of 72% by BG&E, its kinda of amusing when you think about it unless your one of the victims of Governor O’Mally and his campaign BS…..

  2. tjh said

    Yet not a single Republican in the General Assembly opposed the 1999 “restructuring.” Ehrlich’s $600 million deal was tied to the obscene Constellation / FPL merger deal. And Schisler’s complete tone-deaf ineptitude was what gave O’Malley the ability to challenge the PSC’s action in Court. And then there was the Schisler PSC’s open meeting violation.

    The BGE political mess was largely of the Republicans’ own making.

  3. A mess largely of the Republican’s own making? Please.

    So the Republican’s voted for it in 1999. So what. They could have all voted against it and it would have still passed. The whole idea was conceived and birthed by the Democrats (who promptly blamed the Republican Governor when the dung hit the fan). Ehrlich’s only problem is that he had the dumb luck to be Governor at the time and the Democrats successfully painted him with this mess. Given the times everyone was for it. Yeah – cheaper energy. Competition coming to Maryland. We should have looked at the fine print.

    As to the obscene merger. What was obscene about that? I must have missed something in the Baltimore Sun.

    For clarity. Are you saying that the only reason BGE/Constellation agreed to Ehrlich’s deal was to ensure the merger went through? Please advise.

    As to O’Malley. He knew it would come to this. How much more do you think our electric rates are going to go up over the next 7 years?

  4. tjh said

    Just quickly, for clarity, yes, sorta, I am saying that the only reason BGE/Constellation agreed to Ehrlich’s deal was that the money came from and was tied to the proposed merger. A poison pill that Ehrlich had eagerly agreed to swallow, basically. If you missed the multitudes of reasons why the merger was a bad idea, then yes, you missed the articles in the Sun (and elsewhere).

    Under Larsen, rather than incompetent BGE lapdog Schisler, I am absolutely sure that electric rates will be better than they would have been.

  5. Roscoe said

    TJH-
    Your wrong – Larsen basically said His hands are tied – He cannot stop the increase, just like Schisler. The problem is not with the PSC, but with the Legislature created and continues to sidestep on – under the bill passed in last years special session the PSC was supposed to consult with the legislature this year on the proposed increase and yet the Dems never set up the meeting outlined in the law. Nice try spinning the problem but it was created by the Maryland Democrat Party and continues the hurt the “little” guy and the “working families” of Maryland whice the Democrats have abandoned with these rate increases….

  6. tjh said

    Actually Roscoe, let me explain “your wrong.” The special session passed SB 1 (supported by more than a few members who are not in the so-called “Democrat Party” by the way) which required the PSC to perform some studies and make recommendations, much of which were due December 2006. In what was probably a blessing for everyone, Schisler and his crew, already lame ducks, essentially, um, ducked the issues and left any heavy lifting to the new PSC. As Constellation indicates in the Sun today, had Schisler’s PSC not botched the purchase of power last year, the increase might have been more like 25%.

  7. TomBerkhouse said

    TJH – TO quote John McEnroe…”You can not be serious!” You’re trying to say that this is the republican’s fault, or Ehrlich’s fault. YOu are in an extreme state of denial and excuse-making for the Democratic party which has controlled state legislative policy for over 40 years. O’Malley is an attorney, as is his father-in-law, and his wife is a judge. Do you mean to tell me that they couldn’t read the legislation and see the writing on the wall, that the rates would increase, and could not be stopped. So after lying to the public to win the election, now we find out that Ehrlich was right all along. AND, at least under the “rigged merger” there was some relief for BGE customers. O’Malley derailed it for political purposes and the voters fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

    O’Malley is nothing but a lying rat politician, and you’re obviously stupid enough to believe him and defend him.

  8. timactual said

    Electricity rates have been frozen since 1998. Oil prices, and other costs, have risen since then. Does anyone seriously believe they would not rise when the freeze expired? Are the rates in Md. any worse than the rates elsewhere?

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