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O'Malley Promises Renewed Effort to Re-Regulate Utilities

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said this morning that his administration plans to make re-regulation of Maryland's energy markets a priority during the next session of the General Assembly.

He also took a swipe at a possible $87 million payout to Constellation Energy Group CEO Mayo A. Shattuck as a condition of the proposed purchase by Electricite de France of Constellation's nuclear assets.

The comments came as the Board of Public Works approved $4.6 million in consulting contracts for the Public Service Commission, Maryland's utility regulator. The money is paying energy experts who are fighting federal regulators to lower wholesale electricity prices and helping the PSC negotiate the terms of complex Constellation deal, which it must approve.

The O'Malley administration and some General Assembly lawmakers are exploring whether the PSC can demand some rate relief for electricity customers as part of the deal.

"I want you to retain whatever expertise we need," O'Malley told PSC Chairman Douglas Nazarian, "so the people do not get worked over by the energy industry...We told the people of our state that we expect the Public Service Commission to fight everyday for the public."

Electricity prices shot up when rate caps imposed during the deregulation process were lifted. The governor, facing reelection next year, has won some rate relief but high bills remain a political problem for him. A bill to partially return Maryland to a regulated market passed the state Senate this winter, but stalled in the House of Delegates.

The PSC is expected to decide next week whether the EDF purchase would give the company enough control over Baltimore Gas & Electric, the utility owned by Constellation, to allow regulators to demand givebacks.

"We need to make sure that we are not being blindfolded by Constellation Energy," O'Malley said. .

By Lisa Rein  |  June 3, 2009; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Governor O'Malley is right on the money! Deregulation has failed and reregulation is the solution. As a co-sponsor of his rereg bill this year, I'm optimistic that we can pass it through both houses in 2010 -- if ratepayers let their legislators know they are fed up with excessive electric rates. To find out more about the Governor's plan and about Senator Pipkin's and my letter this week to the PSC showing how BGE rates could be cut 10% while boosting Constellation's stock price, go to

Posted by: jimrosapepe | June 3, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

You know, I want O'Malley to let things alone.

The last few governors screwed the pooch on this utility deregulation.

But surely, O'Malley will do worse. He's so unintelligent that he only hears one thing... raise taxes. I'm sure this is some way to raise taxes to pay for free education for illegal immigrants.

It's like if you peered in the man's ear, you'd see a large block of concrete occupying the space between his ears.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | June 3, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

why doesn't o'malley regulate some of his illegal aliens?

Posted by: charlietuna666 | June 3, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley got punked last time he tried to rein in the utilities but he knew he didn't have a case, he was just posturing for the election. This is no different. Like it or not, they have the law on their side.

Posted by: gbooksdc | June 3, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that re-regulating the electric utility industry will lower electricity rates is having a "pipe dream." Electric rates are primarily driven by fuel prices and construction costs.

Posted by: soggydog | June 4, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

soggydog, you forgot CORPORATE PROFITS! Ever hear of Enron? Re-regulate NOW!

Posted by: free-donny | June 4, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

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