Early Briefing: Md's Power Problems

* Maryland's deregulation of electricity markets led to rate spikes for millions of customers and left the state vulnerable to power shortages so severe that they could cause frequent brownouts, a highly critical report by state regulators concludes. The situation is so dire the state's Public Service Commission may use it authority to force utility companies to buy more electricity.

The PSC, in this report (pdf), frames the issue as one in which "there is no ambiguity or room for serious dispute: unless steps are taken now, the State of Maryland faces a critical shortage of electricity capacity that could force
mandatory usage restrictions, such as rolling black-outs, by 2011 or 2012." See story.

* We take a look at the competing demands on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- not the least of which is the companies' obligation to deliver profits to shareholders -- as policymakers call on the mortgage finance giants to help large numbers of homeowner avert foreclosure. See story.

* In his Federal Diary column, Steve Barr says an attempt by Rep. Frank R. Wolf and Sen. John Warner to extend combat-zone tax breaks to government contractors has stalled in Congress. See story.

By Dan Beyers  |  December 4, 2007; 6:12 AM ET
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