This morning the news today is the astounding figure of 93% of US earnings these few years having gone to the 1%. This has been the trend for years, but it has reach a pinnacle. Believe that they intend to keep this % with the incumbents they have in place. Top reasons for this %: Failure to end Bush Tax Cuts; failure to bring back trillions in fraud; Bernanke's Fed policy giving free money; trillions in tax breaks to corporations in the guise of 'job creation' simply used to build corporate infrastructure, to have taxpayers pay corporate R and D expenses and Human Resources expenses. Your corporate Third Way Democratic politician is legislating all that. AND YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE DEADLOCKED AND POLARIZED!
A local Maryland example can be seen with 2 items from this week: Baltimore's last Board of Estimates meeting and O'Malley holding his head low as he announced his tax surcharge on Maryland's utility rate payers to pay Exelon's operational and capital development costs. THESE TWO EXAMPLES SHOW HOW THE TOP 1% ARE MAKING 97% OF THE WEALTH. THEY ARE ALLOWING THE PEOPLE 3% BECAUSE, AFTER ALL, WE HAVE TO EAT IN ORDER TO WORK.
So, BGE is at the Board of Estimate meeting to protest a 3% rate hike the city charges BGE for doing business. BGE's protest was this: We note that the city had a $600,000 surplus last year from this 'doing business' account and has never had instances where this account has not been adequate. There is no demonstrated need for an increase. To which Rawlings-Blake flunkies say 'we have plans for that money that haven't been listed on accounts'.....capital expenditures roll from year to year. BGE states 'we have a criteria for approval agreement' with the city that states we have the right to know and approve how those funds in this 'doing business' accounts are used. Rawlings-Blake flunkies say 'we aren't required to get your approval for anything'.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE SAYS SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHY BGE IS WORRIED ABOUT THIS RATE HIKE BECAUSE ALL THEY NEED TO DO IS PASS IT ON TO THE RATEPAYER.
It comes out in conversation that the $600,000 looks to be heading to the Enterprise Zone development in Dundalk to build utility conduits for underground cables for these wealthy developments. This is the underground cables that everyone in Maryland has been shouting for because of the multiple power outages. THE REASON THIS IS NOT DOCUMENTED IS THAT WE SEE HOW THIS MONEY COLLECTED FROM RATEPAYERS IN THE FORM OF RATE HIKES WILL BE FUNNELLED. THE GRID UPGRADES ARE ALREADY TARGETING WEALTHY DEVELOPMENTS AND COMMUNITIES.
I asked the Baltimore Sun reporter covering the Board of Estimate meeting if he was going to write an article on this and he says ' I didn't hear anything' and indeed, there was no press. I HAVE WRITTEN THE BOARD OF ESTIMATES TWICE ASKING THEM TO GET MEETING ROOM CAMERAS UP AND RUNNING ON PUBLIC ACCESS TV STATION 25 AS PER CITY LEGISLATION PASSED TWO YEARS AGO.REQUIRING THIS AND EACH TIME I AM TOLD IT WILL HAPPEN IN A MONTH....AND DOESN'T.
BELOW YOU SEE MY LETTER TO BALTIMORE'S PUBLIC JUSTICE CENTER REGARDING THE FAILURE TO OPEN THE BALTIMORE BOARD OF ESTIMATES TO PUBLIC SCRUTINY BY FULFILLING CITY COUNCIL LEGISLATION STATING THESE MEETINGS WILL BE TELEVISED.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!
Now we hear O'Malley telling us that his tax surcharge on BGE ratepayers to pay for the grid upgrades we all demanded of the corporation is necessary and will be 'just a few dollars a month'. Remember, it was O'Malley that assured us this BGE/Exelon merger would not bring rate increases and it was O'Malley that assured us a few years back that a 75% rate increase requested by Constellation/BGE would not happen. Well, this is it. This 'small rate increse' will be close to this 75% number. We already know that O'Malley's hand-picked Maryland Public Service Commission will approve those increases. It happened in Exelon's home of Chicago just a few years ago. These Third Way corporate Democrats are writing laws and policy that has you and I constantly paying all aspects of corporate business expense while letting them openly defraud us with no consequences.
THIS IS WHY THEY HAVE 93% OF THE WEALTH CREATED! DO YOU HEAR YOUR MEDIA OUTLET TELLING YOU THIS?
NOT IN MARYLAND YOU DON'T!!!
I SENT THIS BLOG TO THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS FOR PUBLIC JUSTICE/INTEREST. THESE ORGANIZATIONS ARE TASKED WITH PUBLIC SERVICE. DO YOU HEAR THEM? DO YOU WANT THEM SHOUTING PUBLICLY ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING BEHIND CLOSED DOORS? YES WE DO! I'M GOING TO INCLUDE THE OPEN MEETING BLOG AS WELL:
The Public Justice Center
works with people and communities to confront the laws, practices, and institutions that cause injustice, poverty, and discrimination. We advocate in the courts, legislatures, and government agencies, educate the public, and build coalitions, all to advance our mission of “pursuing systemic change to build a just society.”
Civil Justice Inc.
Phillip Robinson, Executive Director
Civil Justice Inc.
520 West Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-3196 (Fax)
Civil Justice Inc. is a Maryland not-for-profit corporation formed for the purpose of increasing the delivery of legal services to clients of low and moderate income while promoting a statewide network of solo, small firm and community based lawyers who share a common commitment to increasing access to justice through traditional and non-traditional means. Civil Justice is an affiliated program of the University of Maryland School of Law and works closely with the School of Law to promote public interest legal careers for students and graduates. This partnership includes work with the School of Law's clinical programs where Civil Justice Network attorneys mentor students and assist clients served by the program. Civil Justice network attorneys routinely speak at School of Law functions and programs for alumni and students alike. Civil Justice also sponsors a "Consumer Law Clerkship" position for qualified University of Maryland School of Law students. This clerkship provides students with hands-on experience in the area of consumer law which includes litigation, research, and client contact.
A Message from the Maryland People’s Counsel Welcome to the Official website of the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel. Maryland OPC is an independent State agency. Our mission is to represent the interests of residential consumers of electricity, natural gas, telecommunications and private water services in Maryland. NEW EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS FOR UTILITY CUSTOMERS and ADVOCATES [CLICK HERE FOR WELCOME MESSAGE] CONSUMER CORNER HAS THE FULL LIST OF VIDEOS We are very active in a variety of PSC cases right now. OPC staff is working every day on a variety of cost, service and consumer protection issues, like Standard Offer Service (SOS) administrative charges, service reliability standards, supplier licensing and marketing issues, smart meter deployment, and energy efficiency programs. You can do a quick check of important issues in our HOT TOPICS list, and find the dates for HEARINGS. We also post energy supplier price information every month. If you have any suggestions or comments, please use the Contact Us link to share your thoughts with us. ~Paula M. Carmody
THIS IS THE NEWS FROM WHEN REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR EHRLICH WAS DOING THEN WHAT THIRD WAY DEMOCRAT O'MALLEY IS DOING NOW. O'MALLEY USED THIS TO CAMPAIGN AGAINST EHRLICH JUST AS O'MALLEY FOUGHT AGAINST GAMBLING INTERESTS FOR THE GOOD OF MARYLAND FAMILIES. YOU DO NOT HEAR ANY REFERENCE TO THIS FLIP-FLOPPING FOR POLITICAL GAIN DO YOU?
Baltimore takes right steps against BGE rate hikes
By THE ANNAPOLIS CAPITAL EDITORIAL BOARD
We have to give credit to the people in Baltimore city who apparently have more backbone than state officials to do something serious about the 72 percent rate hike executed by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
Mayor Martin O’Malley and city officials convinced a Circuit Court to halt BGE’s plan to give ratepayers an option of spreading out the increase over a year. The ruling blocks the plan only temporarily, but buys the city time to convince the court to order the state’s largest utility back to the drawing board. One can only hope elected officials and the Public Service Commission will get another crack at doing this right. And doing it right means stopping the merger and retrieving BGE’s profits as a regulated utility.
If there is a need for more evidence that the present PSC doesn’t get it, note the reaction of chairman Kenneth Schlisler. He said in a press release that the city’s action isn’t about helping ratepayers, but about “petty partisan politics.”
Here’s what it is about: cleaning up the mess you left BGE’s customers. Frankly, we don’t care which political party gets the credit, as long as residential electric customers get a break. Constellation Energy Group, BGE’s parent company, bamboozled the governor and his hand-picked Public Service Commission. Ratepayers got stuck with an obscene rate increase while profits and dividends soared for Constellation. While ratepayers began to count their pennies to prepare for higher electric bills, Constellation executives counted their millions to prepare for a merger with Florida Power and Light.
The General Assembly tried to derail the rate hike, first by reconstituting the inept PSC and then by blocking the merger. In one of the most inexplicable political decisions ever, the governor vetoed those efforts and the Senate was unable to come up with a rate-relief compromise. Without a threat to the lucrative merger, the state lost its primary bargaining chip. Now the rate increases and the merger are on a fast track.
The court’s decision prevents the utility from educating its customers about the phase-in of rates, which could become a Pyrrhic victory if the court eventually relents and BGE gets its way. However, times are desperate and any roadblock thrown in the way of this train wreck is good news to us. We would hope, as Sen. John Astle suggests, that Annapolis and Anne Arundel County join in the suit. In fact, every jurisdiction should join.
Constellation says it has a right to pass along any increases caused by rising fuel prices. But it does not have a right to pass along tens of millions of dollars in obscene executive bonuses, or the billions in stock profits that will be reaped as a result of the sale of the company. The state has an obligation to protect its citizens from such gouging, and should re-regulate BGE and stop this merger.
We wish Baltimore good luck.
REPORTS PUT THIS INCREASE EVEN HIGHER.....CLOSER TO $16 EACH MONTH ALMOST DOUBLING ENERGY BILLS IN MARYLAND.
BGE requests rate increase for electric, gas distribution Proposal would add $11.80 a month to typical residential bill By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun 9:45 p.m. EDT, July 27, 2012
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. is seeking to raise distribution rates for electricity and natural gas, a move that would add about $11.80 a month to the median residential bill.
The rate increase is needed to pay for updated infrastructure, utility officials said Friday. If the proposal is approved by the Public Service Commission, the median bill would rise each billing cycle by about $7.20 for electricity and $4.60 for natural gas.
It's a particularly tricky time to seek a rate increase, as BGE faces consumer backlash and a regulatory probe stemming from its response to a powerful derecho storm last month. High winds knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of customers in broad swaths of Central Maryland, and critics said BGE and other utilities weren't prepared and failed to repair lines quickly.
"There's never a good time for a rate increase," said Mark D. Case, BGE's vice president for strategy and regulatory affairs. "We are trying to deliver on higher customer expectations."
But consumer advocates balked. Companies such as BGE should find other sources of income to strengthen their grid and invest in cost-cutting technologies before requesting rate increases, said Jenny Levin, state advocate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Foundation, a consumer advocacy group.
"If they want rate increases, they need to show they can provide reliable energy," Levin said. "They need to be looking at alternatives ... before they come asking for more money from ratepayers."
Even if the increases are approved, BGE's rates would still be lower than those of most regional peers, Case said. And the company offers a number of ways to help keep customer costs down, including energy efficiency programs, he said.
A bill stabilization adjustment, which makes up for revenue lost to such efficiency programs, raised the ire of customers this month when they learned they would be charged the small fee even though many were without power after the storm.
The rate increase proposed Friday would enable the utility to recover money already spent on updating aging poles and wires, Case said. Last year, BGE spent $594 million on construction investments.
The company projects that the rate increases would bring in $204.2 million per year, according to the application with the commission. That money also would help BGE leverage the money to cover about $3 billion in updates to its electricity and gas distribution system over the next five years.
BGE serves about 1.2 million electricity customers and 650,000 natural gas customers in Maryland. The proposed rate increase relates only to the cost of distribution, not commodity costs. Distribution charges typically make up about a quarter of a residential bill.
The company's last distribution rate increase took effect in December 2010, raising the typical residential customer's monthly bill by $1.34 for electricity and 85 cents for natural gas. BGE has asked for electricity distribution increases only twice in nearly two decades; gas delivery rates have gone up five times in that period, Case said.
"We've been looking at this closely over the last year or so," Case said. The increase is not a reaction to recent weather-related outages, he said.
In early June, executives of the local utility's new owner, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., told stock analysts during a meeting in New York that BGE had delayed filing the rate increase request. BGE wanted to wait until its former parent company, Constellation Energy Group, finalized its merger with Exelon.
The $7.9 billion deal, which closed in March, included a rate increase as part of the merger plans.
"It's pretty startling that they think the filing of a rate case is a sign of a successful merger," said People's Counsel Paula M. Carmody, whose office is an independent state agency that advocates for consumers on utility issues. Her office plans to "vigorously challenge" the rate increase request, she said.
Though her office knew the request was coming, Carmody said, she was surprised at the submission's timing. Her office and the Public Service Commission have launched investigations into BGE's performance in the aftermath of the June 29 storm.
Gov. Martin O'Malley, also in response to the storm, set up a work group this week to come up with ways to improve the ability of the state's electrical grid to withstand storms. O'Malley asked for recommendations within 60 days.
The Public Service Commission could choose to approve only a portion of BGE's proposed rate increase. Last week, the commission rejected the full requests submitted by Pepco, the utility that serves the Washington region, and Delmarva Power & Light Co.
The commission approved $18 million of the $68 million distribution rate increase requested by Pepco and less than half of the $25 million rate increase sought by Delmarva Power. Both utilities, subsidiaries of Pepco Holdings Inc., filed their requests in mid-December.
Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun
BGE overdue on $5.5 million in bills to Baltimore, officials say City says BGE hasn't made payments for use of its conduit system By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun 6:09 p.m. EDT, October 7, 2012
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. is past due on nearly $5.5 million in payments owed to the city for use of a conduit system that carries power and telecommunications lines, according to city officials.
The late payments are causing "cash flow" issues for city government and could delay the start of capital projects, said Jamie Kendrick, deputy director for administration in the city's Transportation Department, which manages the conduit system. Kendrick said the city will either try to negotiate a payment plan with the company or refer the matter to Solicitor George Nilson for possible litigation.
"We are consulting with the Law Department to determine the collection method," Kendrick said. "One option is to go to court, another is to try and negotiate something."
BGE spokesman Rob Gould said the company is disputing a bill it received last year and that it only recently received the second bill that city officials say is past due. In fact, he said, company officials only learned of the second bill when The Baltimore Sun inquired about it.
"We have no record of receiving one of these bills," Gould said.
BGE pays the city for access to Baltimore's elaborate conduit system that consists of 3.9 million feet of concrete casing, at a cost of 90 cents per foot of power cable. The system's conduits carry wires for electricity, telephone service, fiber optics and street and traffic lights. The system is accessed from more than 14,000 manhole structures and stretches throughout most of the city, except its outskirts.
The city relies on payments from BGE and other users to help upgrade the system. Kendrick said the company's late payments have caused "no operational impact yet, but there soon will be."
BGE critics seized on the company's unpaid bills, saying it is quick to cut off residents' power when they miss payments.
"It's very shocking that they're doing that since they're so insistent on everyone else paying," said Chris Bush, a Catonsville accountant and frequent critic of the company who has battled BGE in court over rate hikes. "They cut off people all the time. I'm amazed they have the gall to not pay their bills."
BGE has not paid a bill for $590,000 that was due in August of 2011 or a $4.9 million bill due in May, according to city officials. The company has until the end of October to pay a third bill for $5.4 million, officials said.
Gould said the company disputes the first bill, hadn't received the second and has requested supporting documentation before paying any of the invoices.
"We're going to review the bills," he said.
City officials pointed out that the company should be aware it is billed twice a year.
Community activist Leo Burroughs, who helped organize a coalition to protest BGE rate hikes, encouraged the city to get tough with the company. He also noted a recent Baltimore Sun report that showed businesses, nonprofits and government offices were past due on more than $10 million in water bill payments as well.
"The city has an obligation to collect revenue from big businesses and fat cats, just as they do from lower-income and middle-income people," Burroughs said. "It is outrageous that the city would not take the appropriate legal action to bring to court those big businesses that fail to honor their legal obligations to pay for the services provided by the city."
In June, BGE announced it was seeking to raise distribution rates for electricity and natural gas, a move that would add about $11.80 a month to the median residential bill and must be approved by the Public Service Commission. The company projects that the rate increases would bring in $204.2 million per year.
A related dispute between BGE and city officials flared Wednesday before the Board of Estimates, when the panel voted to raise the rate it charges BGE for access to the conduit system by nearly 3 cents per foot of cable to 92.7 cents.
Kimberly Curry, senior counsel for BGE, spoke out against the increase at the meeting, calling it unnecessary and saying it could end up saddling the company's customers with higher bills.
Gould said the $1.5 million in charges would be passed on to the company's 1.2 million customers across central Maryland, so that the increase to each customer's bill would be minimal. Any rate increase, he added, would need regulatory approval.
Kendrick said much of the rate increase would be spent on improvements to the conduit system on Washington Boulevard, Dundalk Avenue, Charles Street and Broening Highway — some of the system's major corridors.
Actually it was Mayor Rawlings-Blake and her team that told BGE to send the 3% rate increase the city wants from BGE on to taxpayers. Gould did not mention this possibility. That is a very different take on this story.
BGE's protest has to do largely with the city's unwillingness to comply with the 'criteria for approval' clause that gives companies that pay into this 'doing business account' the right to know what to which projects these funds are being allocated. Just as the citizens of Baltimore are being kept in the dark regarding the how their tax money is being spent by the Board of Estimates, we see the Board doing the same to businesses, in this case BGE.
Now BGE is not fighting for the ratepayer as they do indeed intend to have ratepayers pay for their operational/infrastructure costs in a rate hile that will reach almost 75% (remember the similar attempt that O'Malley fought off for political gain against Ehrlich?)....it is back. They are simply trying to position their interests above the Wall Street developers of the Enterprise Zones.
It revealed that money is very 'fungible' in the city and the $600,000 that Gould used as an example as money not spent was actually going to the Dundalk Enterprise Zones to bury their cables. Grid upgrades and these rate hikes look to fund wealthy development.
We all want these expenditures to be public and open to public input.
Elizabeth1925 at 9:14 AM October 8, 2012 The Mayor relies on the Department of Tranportation to handle this. Mr Kendrick, you stood at the Board of Estimates last week to seek a rate increase for the conduit in the City's right of way. Did you not know BG&E was past due and owed the City $5 Million? It is hard to believe that the past due fees never came up or that no one in your very large City agency watches over the billing and collection of BG&E conduit fees since it important to your agency's capital projects. It is you, Mr. Kendrick, who misrepresented what was really happening at the Board of Estimates last week. And it is your agency that has not done its job in ensuring the City receives what is due. Council President Young and Comptroller Pratt: everyone understands that you hold only two of the five votes at the Board of Estimates. But you must learn to us that limited power to find out what the city agenies are up to and to force the city agencies to tell you what is really happening. The city agencies-- be it MOIT about telephones or DOT about conduit fees-- think that they can withhold information or indeed make up things. One thing you have the power to do right now: when an agency has misbehaved, none of their action items should be on routine agenda at the Board of Estimates. Make the agency heads come and stand in front of you every Wednesday until they learn to be truthful.
I thank Elizabeth for speaking of holding people accountable, but her indication that these leaders on the Board of Estimates may somehow be kept in the dark is not realistic. As someone who always attends these Board meetings, I knew these things were happening as does everyone else attending these Board meetings.
I would suggest that the Baltimore Sun and other city organizations push the Board of Estimates to enact the legislation from 2 years ago to place these meetings on public access TV. The cameras are in the meeting room and only need to be turned on and tuned into by the public.....but then the local media would not be able to control the information coming from the meetings?