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PSC Hears From Utilities, Consumer Advocates

Anne Bartlett

An executive with Baltimore Gas and Electric told members of the Maryland Public Service Commission today that electricity prices are rising due to global market forces and reregulating the industry would serve to worsen the problem.

The comments came at a public hearing by the commission on its December report that said that seven years after deregulation, state intervention is now needed to prevent further price increases and future electricity shortages. The commission will be finalizing the report over coming months.

Among the report's recommendations was a suggestion that regulators order utility companies to buy power through long-term contracts to provide price stability.

William Pino, a BG&E official, told the commission his company opposes long-term contracts, suggesting they are a gamble that decouples prices from market forces.

Representatives of Maryland's Office of the People's Counsel, which advocates for residential ratepayers, as well as the American Association for Retired People, argued long term contracts could be one part of a strategy to provide customers the best, least volatile prices.

AARP official Barbara R. Alexander urged the commission to move quickly to define new powers it will use to guide the industry, noting it has been two years since the Maryland General Assembly empowered the commission to move towards reregulation.

By Anne Bartlett  |  May 14, 2008; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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