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In 1910, the Maryland General Assembly established the Public Service Commission (PSC or Commission) to regulate public utilities and certain passenger transportation companies doing business in Maryland. The jurisdiction and powers of the Commission are found in the Public Utility Companies Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.
The Commission regulates gas, electric, telephone, water, and sewage disposal companies. Also subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission are electricity suppliers, fees for pilotage services to vessels, construction of a generating station and certain common carriers engaged in the transportation for hire of persons. The PSC's jurisdiction extends to taxicabs operating in the City of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Cumberland, and Hagerstown.
The categories of regulated public service companies are listed below:
- electric utilities;
- gas utilities;
- combination gas and electric utilities;
- Telecommunications companies;
- water, and water and sewerage companies;
- passenger motor vehicle carriers (sedans, limousines, and buses);
- railroad companies;
- taxicab companies; and
- other public service companies.
Best known to the public is the Commission's role in setting utility rates. However, the Commission has much broader authority for supervision and regulation of activities of public service companies. In addition to setting rates, the Commission collects and maintains records and reports of public service companies, reviews plans for service, inspects equipment, audits financial records, handles consumer complaints, promulgates and enforces rules and regulations, defends its decisions on appeal to State courts, and intervenes in relevant cases before federal regulatory commissions and federal courts.
WRITE A COMPLAINT TO THIS COMMISSION AGAINST THE BGE/EXELON RATE INCREASE .....THE COMMENT PERIOD IS JANUARY 2013 AND THE DECISION IS IN FEBRUARY!!!!!
Did you know that when the powers that be decided to take our public utility private so big profits could be made by a corporation and its shareholders that the deal place over a billion dollars in sale to the public right back on the Calvert Cliff power plants and their closing? Does that sound like a deal in the public's interest? Of course not. One could make a case that it is not legal to place public money on the line against corporate profit when it comes to public office holders.
What this means is that a utility built by public money was given to a corporation that went on to make billions in profit and then that same public will be charged with shutting down that power plant with the money given by the corporation in the sale of the utility.
Now, to me that is big news but to Maryland media that is something that needs to stay in the past so that no one remembers that any of this was done. When Exelon tells us we will pay a rate increase in order to subsidize all their capital investments in infrastructure..they are saying the same thing. THIS IS NOT HOW A DEMOCRACY WORKS. THE PUBLIC IS NOT USED TO SUBSIDIZE CORPORATE PROFITS..THAT IS AN AUTOCRACY.
So, the citizens of MD have not only this billion or so dollars needing to come to the public but it also has several hundred million left from the massive Constellation rate fraud. WE ARE ROLLING IN ENERGY DOUGH!
Report: Calvert Cliffs, other nuclear reactors at risk of early retirement Vermont Law School report suggests a third of U.S. nuclear plants have economic, other risk factors
A new report suggests that a substantial number of U.S. nuclear reactors — including one or both at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland — are at risk of early retirement.
Mark Cooper with the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment said a third of the country's nuclear fleet have a number of risk factors, largely economic, that could lead to their owners' deciding to shut them down before their licenses expire. A single problem, such as a costly repair, could be enough to push any of the reactors over the brink, he said.
Four reactors with licenses that weren't set to expire for years were retired by their owners in recent months — one in Wisconsin, one in Florida and two in California. Maintenance and repair expenses and deteriorating profitability drove those decisions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
"The bottom line is that the tough times the nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get tougher," said Cooper, who pointed to low natural gas prices and other competition.
Lusby-based Calvert Cliffs, which has two reactors and employs 900, produces enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes. One reactor came online in 1975 and the other in 1977; their licenses won't expire for more than 20 years.
Though Calvert Cliffs isn't one of a handful of nuclear plants Cooper identified as particularly vulnerable, he said the site has six of 11 risk factors for early retirement, including its age, its need to compete on the wholesale market and past long-term outages.
"We are proud of the operating histories of our facilities as well as the clean energy and economic boost they provide to the communities we serve," said Cindy Angus, a spokeswoman for Calvert Cliffs' owner, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, in a statement. "CENG has no information to suggest our facilities would retire before their licensed operating lives are up."
Constellation Energy Nuclear Group is a joint venture between Exelon — Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s parent — and French energy firm EDF Group. About half of Exelon's electricity generation comes from nuclear plants, and lower power prices contributed to its $4 million loss in the first three months of the year.
But Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, disputed the report's conclusions. He said natural gas prices are volatile historically, and he argued that nuclear power remains relevant.
"Throughout this week, all but a handful of the nation's 100 reactors have been operating around the clock at full power," he said by email. "Particularly during periods of extreme weather — hot and cold — nuclear energy facilities are vital to the nation's electricity grid and to the well-being of the American people."
Nuclear critics, on the other hand, think Cooper is right.
"We are entering an era of more reactor retirements, which is inevitable given the age of the fleet and increased competition that was not foreseen a decade ago, when a lot of these reactors were getting license extensions," said Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a Takoma Park-based nuclear watchdog group.
Cooper said the effect of reactor retirements on consumers would depend on overall energy production levels at the time.
"It might have some impact on price," he said. "Then again, it might not."
So, Exelon sells MD coal-fire power plants rather than shut them down. When Governor O'Malley says he is in it for the environment......except when a company will lose profit. Exelon will be given these solar projects and natural gas projects as they corner MD energy. Who owns these coal-fire plants? A 'new energy consortium.....OH REALLY?
We do not want this energy consolidation and want to move back to public utilities. Neo-liberals are determined that all will go to global corporations....in the making.
Exelon completes sale of 3 coal-fired power plants to Raven Power
December 3, 2012 By PennEnergy Editorial Staff
Source: Exelon Corp.
Exelon buys 720MW gas-fired power plant in Texas EBR Staff Writer Published 29 August 2011
Exelon plans to build solar power plant on Chicago's South SideCompany would rely on Energy Department loan guarantees for $60 million project
April 22, 2009|By Joshua Boak, Tribune Reporter
Exelon Corp. will unveil on Wednesday plans to build a $60 million solar power plant on Chicago's South Side, a small step to fighting climate change that leans heavily on government funding due to the high cost of turning sunlight into electricity.
"It's a way to start participating in renewable energy," said Tom O'Neill, Exelon's senior vice president of generation development. "Ultimately, we are putting 10 megawatts of electricity on the grid. It's not much. But you've got to start somewhere."
Solar power won't replace coal power plants anytime soon. The unaffiliated coal-fired Crawford plant in Chicago has a capacity that is 50 times greater than the Exelon solar project, which would be constructed only if the company qualifies for federal Energy Department loan guarantees.
America gets about one-ten-thousandth of its electricity from the sun, according to the Energy Department. There's room for growth.
But reducing the price of solar panels to a competitive level is the challenge. To produce the same amount of electricity, solar panels are four times more expensive than building a natural gas plant; and three times more expensive than a nuclear plant, according to recent analysis by Moody's Investor Service, the debt ratings agency.
Still, utilities are pushing forward with solar projects, figuring the price tags could drop as solar power becomes more popular.
Whenever the number of solar panel installations doubles, the associated costs drop by 20 percent, said Ken Zweibel, director of the Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy at George Washington University. On average, installations double every 30 months.
"As the size of market increases, manufacturers can ramp up production and drive down cost," said Julia Hamm, executive director of the Solar Electric Power Association.
Orders are streaming in. Florida Power & Light Co. said this month that $350 million worth of solar panels could meet the electricity needs of a planned city there. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced in February a program to develop up to 500 megawatts of solar power for northern and central California.
New Jersey also has a sunny outlook on solar power. Its Public Service Electric and Gas Co. proposed in February a $773 million project to install solar panels on streetlights and public schools, among other locations. Due to federal tax credits and state incentives, the average PSE&G residential bill of $1,270 a year would increase by about $4 if officials approve the project.
The advantage of solar power is panels do not have to be clustered in one location, unlike a nuclear, gas or coal plant. Exelon would install 32,800 panels on a 39-acre former industrial site in Chicago's West Pullman neighborhood, the largest project in a U.S. urban center.
The SunPower Corp.-made panels would track the sun's path, maximizing exposure. Gray Chicago skies should not be an obstacle, said Julie Blunden, vice president of public policy for SunPower.
"Chicago has better sun than Germany," Blunden said. "And Germany is the largest solar market in the world today."
The economic stimulus package made funds available for more solar power projects. The Energy Department can guarantee the loans used to pay for construction. So Exelon can explore renewable energy, even though the parent of Chicago utility Commonwealth Edison Co. has staked its future on expanding its fleet of 17 nuclear reactors.
"We're a nuclear company," said O'Neill. "But we know which way the wind blows, no pun intended. Nothing is off the table."
DO YOU HEAR YOUR THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRAT SHOUTING FOR YOUR PROTECTION AS REGARDS BGE? DO YOU HEAR THEM SHOUT ABOUT THE BILLIONS OWED YOU AND YOUR COMMUNITIES THAT NEED TO BE INVESTED TO GIVE YOUR COMMUNITY THESE SAME UPGRADES?
I DON'T HEAR CARL STOKES, MARY PAT CLARKE, JACK YOUNG OR CURRAN SAYING A THING ABOUT THEIR CONSTITUENTS WELL-BEING. NOTHING FROM MARY WASHINGTON AND PUGH EITHER. WONDER WHY NONE OF BALTIMORE'S INCUMBENTS SHOUTED TO LET YOU KNOW THE BGE RATE INCREASES NEEDED PEOPLE AT THE PUBLIC MEETINGS OR THAT THEIR CONSTITUENTS DYING TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER INCONVENIENCE CAUSED BY DOWNED TREES?
Citizens Oversight Maryland.com
It seems that BGE would tackle the outages that kill people as those in the city where people cannot live without AC or heat and have no ability to escape the consequences of lost energy. This is the problem of allowing a corporation to decide how it will approach service. Where it may not matter when a corporation decides whether to place its product in a can or bottle, when you are dealing with utilities......which all should be public....you make decisions according to quality of life and death issues. A corporation is not going to do what is right, it will do what is profitable.
So, as we are told BGE will set aside millions for upgrades and as we see rates increase to pay for that upgrade we will watch as Rawlings-Blake and O'Malley make sure the Enterprise Zones get the bulk of the funding for underground cables while those most needing reliable energy connections do not get it.
The citizens of Maryland are ready to receive what are billions of dollars owed the public from what was our public utility. From the billions paid the public when the utility went private to the billion owed with rate charge frauds over these years, the public wants all of those debts used to pay for a fair and equitable upgrading of this infrastructure not a selective piecemealing. We do not want these public monies to be hidden and fungible. Now is the time to pay the public.
BGE to spend at least $1 million fixing power outage problems in Roland Park Solutions outlined at Roland Park Civic League meeting
By Larry Perl, email@example.com February 8, 2013 | 8:43 a.m.
On a night when Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. warned of possible power outages from a brewing nor'easter, BGE officials were in Roland Park, presenting plans to fix frequent outages on many of the community's streets.
Roland Park residents have complained in recent years their houses constantly lose electricity for no apparent reason, even in nice weather and sometimes on one side of a street but not the other.
The problem has been exacerbated by extreme weather such as super storm Sandy and a freak derecho that left thousands in the dark last June. BGE representatives told the Roland Park Civic League last October that they were formulating a plan to identify the causes, ranging from downed lines to squirrels, and make the necessary repairs.
On Thursday, the same officials were back before the civic league, presenting a detailed strategy for four main trouble spots — Merrymount Road, Longwood Road, Indian Lane and Oakdale Road. The plan would cost at least $1 million, they said.
In Merrymount, which is supplied by the BGE Cold Spring substation, BGE would remove an 820-foot overhead wire at Merry-mount and Edgevale Road, install an underground module at Northern Parkway and Falls Road and reroute electricity to customers on the north end of Merrymount. On Longwood Road, which is serviced by the Mount Washington substation, BGE would replace a 500-foot overhead wire along Blackberry and Elmwood roads, remove a 1,200-foot overhead wire on Edgevale Road, install a 1,400-foot underground cable, and switch devices along Longwood. Those fixes would also affect other nearby roads, including Midvale and Elmwood, said Stuart Page, a BGE engineer.
On Indian Lane, which is served by the Mount Washington substation, BGE would replace a 2,000-foot overhead wire on Edgevale, remove a 500-foot overhead wire on Edgevale, install a 500-foot underground cable along Club Lane and perform routine and enhanced tree trimming along Indian Lane. That part of the plan would also affect Beechdale, Elmhurst and Club roads, Page said.
On Oakdale Road, which is also served by the Mount Washington substation, BGE would replace a 9,000-foot overhead wire along Oakdale and Long Lane and install "wildlife protection" in the area to keep squirrels and other animals away from power lines. Other streets impacted by that strategy would include Roland Avenue, Boulder Lane, and Ridgewood, Club, Upland, Elmhurst and Carlowe roads.
"This is going to affect a large number of customers," Page said.
Most of the fixes are also designed to keep lines free of heavy forestation, Page said. He said replacement wires, known as "tree" wires, would be insulated. Current lines aren't insulated, he said.
Other planned fixes include removing overhead wires at Kenwood Road, Melrose Avenue, Lake Manor Drive and Holland Avenue, Page said. He also said the Mount Washington substation is being rebuilt.
Work on the planned projects would be done concurrently when possible and could take up to a year to finish, BGE officials said.
The 30 people at the civic league meeting applauded the BGE team, but Anne Porterfield, who said she had almost weekly outages in early 2012, wanted to know "how confident you all are" that the strategies would work.
Page and Michael Garzon, a BGE supervisor, said the plan was based on data analysis and walking the streets.
"We have to go by what the data says," Garzon said. He said there may be pockets in which BGE has to refine its strategy.
"We're not going to be able to stop hurricane events," he said. "We're never going to eliminate all outages."
As we watch Third Way corporate pols like O'Malley hand over our local energy company BGE to a national corporation like Exelon and then tell us that rate increases meant to pay for past operational costs and future infrastructure development, what O'Malley is saying is that the public will pay all of the expense of running this company so as to maximize profits for the shareholders. This was a formerly public utility giving great service and greater jobs with lifelong employment that is now preying on the public for ever more money with really bad service.
More important is putting these life and death public utilities in the hands of these very bad and criminal players....we know it will come to no good.
VOTE YOUR THIRD WAY POL OUT OF OFFICE AND RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!!!
Buy Signal: Top Hedge Funds Are Moving Into Energy February 4th, 2013
Money Morning Article of the Week by Kent Moor, Money Morning
There is an easy way to find out where the market thinks a particular sector is heading: Check out the movement of futures contracts held by top hedge fund managers.
These days the signal is clear and pointing in one direction. It's in energy.
Reports have recently surfaced that hedge funds are moving into commodities in general, and energy commodities in particular. What's more these moves are more bullish than at any time since midsummer.
The reason is the same one that we have been discussing for several months. Demand is coming back more quickly than anticipated.
Energy spikes usually start that way. Indicators of market resurgence seem to rush onto the scene, catch analysts by surprise, and the acceleration begins.
But this time, those who survey the market should have seen it coming. After all, the indicators and benchmarks have been there. I have been laying them out here in Money Morning for weeks.
Two elements have emerged over the past several days that finally require the pundits to catch up with us.
First, it is becoming impossible to ignore what is happening in the U.S. and China. Both markets are moving up, with that direction intensifying of late.
In the U.S., forward economic indicators are developing into a bull market signal. This has augmented the run we have experienced of late, largely due to the combination of an oversold condition, no bad news (Congress and the White House may at last be learning how to play nice in the sandbox), and money moving back in.
But it's the second factor that everybody will be talking about this week.
U.S. and China Growth Higher than Expected Investment flows back into equities are quickening. Indications are that over $2.2 trillion came back into stocks thus far in January, the best one-month showing in years. With a pause in European concerns - business confidence moving back up, the European Central Bank establishing standards for cross-border banking, and the credit crisis appearing to ebb - the improving American picture is a genuine stimulus to share prices.
That combined with what is happening half way around the world in China is a recipe for optimism. The condition of Chinese economic growth has been a main subject of TV talking heads for some time. Whenever there is a perception that the growth may be slowing, concerns emerge in Western stock markets and energy prices come under pressure.
China is not the only place where energy demand is an issue. Much of the developing world, especially countries relying on rising industrial bases, is in the same situation. Much of this discussion is also off the mark. It takes a quarter or more for the figures to tell us anything of consequence, but it is the immediate knee-jerk reaction that propels stock market sentiment these days.
In the face of fears that Chinese growth may fall below 7% (can you imagine that, a figure in the high 6s is in a harbinger of doom), some of the pundits began talking about a pull back. Well, China's main economic analysis institute came out with their projection for 2013 national growth last weekend.
It was 8.4%!
And we are back to the races. In the aftermath, movement into crude oil futures by hedge funds was at a four-month high earlier this week.
All of this talk about economic recovery acceleration in the U.S. and renewed growth expectations in China, along with the spikes in energy seen in other parts of the developing world, translates into expectations of increasing demand globally.
Now, there are estimates to back this up.
Global Demand Set to Rise Last week, the Paris-based (and U.N. connected) International Energy Agency (IEA) has said price pressures on the international oil market have suddenly tightened, mainly because of unexpectedly strong data for demand in the U.S. and China in the last quarter of last year. By the way, notice the quarter-long threshold needed to begin discussing tangible figures, something the pundits can't get into their 30-second slot on TV.
The IEA then announced it is raising its forecast for 2013 global oil demand by 240,000 barrels per day from its estimate released only last month. The new total of 90.8 million barrels per day is 930,000 (or 1%) more than in 2012. OPEC is also likely to be raising its estimates in the cartel's next report.
An aside of interest, while there is considerable excess reserves available in both conventional and unconventional (shale and tight) oil worldwide, it still takes time (and capital investment to extract. The currently available and sustainable volume capable of being brought to the market is about 94 million barrels a day.
No point in getting worried yet about a supply shortage.
But this condition will be resulting in higher prices.
The IEA also noted that a dominant factor in the global energy market now "has a lot to do with political risk writ large, and not just in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya or Venezuela," and includes regulatory risks. Such concerns will also raise prices.
As for my estimates, I still say in we will hit $105 a barrel in New York (WTI benchmark) and $127 in London (Brent) by March 31.
The hedge fund movers and shakers seem to agree.
The legal actions surrounding the 1999 settlement with Constellation have been shifted and lost in the transactions of these past few deals the latest being the Exelon merger. We know of no $2.7 billion invested in the Calvert Cliffs power plants and we are hearing rather of an intent on selling these plants as is for ever more profit for Exelon. THIS IS FOR WHAT I DEMANDED OUR PEOPLE'S COUNCIL LOOK TO DETERMINE WHAT THE STATUS AND WHY IT IS NOT TO HERE EXELON GOES FOR MONEY AND NOT YET AGAIN TO THE RATEPAYER!!!!
THESE CORPORATE POLITICIANS SIMPLY LIKE TO WAIT TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO FORGET THE RESULTS AND THEN JUST ALLOW IT ALL TO DISAPPEAR. Below is a statement from Constellation that gives a slant towards their own vantage point and even from there.....they owe the citizens of Maryland loads of money!!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!
Constellation Energy Releases Statement Regarding Maryland Public Service Commission Interim Report on Stranded Costs, Competitive Transition Charge Payments and Nuclear Decommissioning BALTIMORE, Jan. 17, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --
Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) today released the following statement regarding the release by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) of its January 17, 2008, Interim Report to the Maryland General Assembly on Stranded Costs, Competitive Transition Charge Payments and Nuclear Decommissioning: Constellation Energy is reviewing the Maryland PSC's report, but it is immediately apparent that the report is based upon flawed analyses. Furthermore, the report is an attempt to rewrite the true history of what was a complex, multi-stakeholder process and the resulting settlement agreement that included the PSC, PSC Staff, the Office of People's Counsel (OPC), the Maryland Energy Administration and at least a dozen other interested parties. "While we have just begun the process of reviewing the Maryland PSC's interim report, it would appear upon initial review that this PSC report, which was prepared without public comment or review, misstates and omits numerous facts and is based on flawed assumptions," said Mayo A. Shattuck III, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Constellation Energy. "Overall we're concerned that this report will have a detrimental effect on Maryland, especially at a time when energy-related investments are so essential for this state. "Constellation Energy has complied with the spirit and letter of the 1999 legislation and settlement," continued Shattuck. "We operate with integrity, transparency, and a sense of mission and pride. Any allegations or innuendo to the contrary in the report is flatly and demonstrably false. "We will continue to work with the Maryland PSC to ensure fair, legal public policy that balances the interests of all stakeholders," added Shattuck. "While Constellation Energy will continue to be a willing participant in any productive dialogue, we will unequivocally reject any mischaracterization of our actions. "When invited to be part of a productive process that intends to improve current regulations or laws, Constellation Energy, as it has in the past, will dedicate itself to being a positive part of that process," said Shattuck. Initial review of the PSC's report by Constellation Energy reveals many deficiencies and omissions, including the following:
-- It wrongly assumes that those stakeholders involved in the 1999 deregulation legislation and subsequent settlement process did not know what they were doing. The 1999 Commission and the parties in the case were competent and highly professional. Certainly, the Commission and the parties knew the difference between before- and after-tax dollars and between present and future values. Such basic concepts are routinely used in regulatory proceedings. -- It wrongly suggests that the Maryland General Assembly should consider attempting to undo cases fully litigated to final judgment in the Maryland Courts. The stranded cost issue was fully adjudicated twice - both at the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and Maryland Court of Special Appeals - with a final judgment upholding the settlement. In fact, the Courts determined that those involved did "a commendable job" in reviewing and approving the settlement. -- It fails to adequately address the recent expert testimony of the PSC Staff and OPC who testified that residential customer bills were no higher than they would have been had there been no stranded costs. Stranded costs did not increase residential customer bills; in fact, residential customer bills were decreased 6.5 percent and frozen for six years as a result of the settlement. -- It wrongly attempts with hindsight to "cherry pick" parts of a decade- old settlement. The restructuring settlement had many components, including a six-year rate freeze which provided in excess of $1 billion in benefits to ratepayers. It is improper to focus only on select portions of the settlement. -- It omits the fact that the 1999 settlement relieved ratepayers of the risks and obligations associated with maintaining and upgrading the plants. Constellation Energy has been or will be required to invest $2.7 billion in capital expenditures in the plants during the period 2000-2010. -- It omits the fact that Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) gave up more than $400 million in revenue associated with accelerated depreciation and regulatory assets. -- The report overlooks the fact that inter-company transactions related to stranded costs were for the benefit of BGE and had no impact on customer bills. The report's criticism of these transactions falls under the category of "no good deed goes unpunished." -- The Commission and the parties understood the workings of nuclear decommissioning as it had been examined in various regulatory proceedings and BGE has been filing annual decommissioning reports since 1985. -- The Calvert Cliffs nuclear decommissioning trusts comply with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements, which are designed to ensure adequate funding for decommissioning. -- The Commission report is misleading with respect to ratepayer liability for nuclear decommissioning; for example, it seems to wrongly suggest that ratepayers would be responsible for decommissioning costs for a third unit at Calvert Cliffs. -- It wrongly suggests that the Maryland General Assembly should ignore well-established boundaries between federal and state jurisdiction. Constellation Energy (http://www.constellation.com), a FORTUNE 125 company with 2006 revenues of $19.3 billion, is the nation's largest competitive supplier of electricity to large commercial and industrial customers and the nation's largest wholesale power seller. Constellation Energy also manages fuels and energy services on behalf of energy intensive industries and utilities. It owns a diversified fleet of 78 generating units located throughout the United States, totaling approximately 8,700 megawatts of generating capacity. The company delivers electricity and natural gas through the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), its regulated utility in Central Maryland.
SOURCE Constellation Energy
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1yfVQ)
Revisiting the terms of the merger makes this 'shot in the arm' basically mute. Politicians are shameless in their promotion of what all of Marylanders know to be a catastrophe for utility rate-payers...the merger with a billion dollar national energy company. It is really hard to make a plus out of that. One thing that was included in the merger was 3 coal-fired power plants that were slated to be sold by Maryland. One of the plants had millions of taxpayer upgrades before the decision to sell them was made. One might ask why did Maryland not sell these plants itself for public profit rather than simply giving them to Exelon which is now in the process of selling them for their profit? The $113.5 million being 'donated' in this case is a decimal point in the overall gains Exelon made on this merger at the ratepayers' cost. We need to keep in mind as well that the Governor and the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC) both intend to give what will be a huge rate increase to Exelon very soon to pay for past operational expenses and infrastructure development. The money generated by this hike and the State taxpayer money sent to augment costs make this small sum irrelevant. What people need to see is that having a national corp that is profit-driven holding your utility will mean that more and more people will see energy becoming a large part of their expense.
I'LL NEED TO REMIND THE MPSC WHAT A BAD DEAL THIS WAS FOR MARYLAND CITIZENS!
Exelon merger-fund millions go to projects to lower energy costs Public Service Commission awards $113.5 million to variety of projects
The $113.5 million that Exelon Corp. agreed to make available for innovative projects — a condition of regulatory approval for its purchase of Constellation Energy in Baltimore — was awarded Thursday to groups planning to help low-income customers, small businesses and others lower their energy bills.
Exelon's Maryland regulator, the Public Service Commission, decided how to distribute the money after receiving 98 proposals. Baltimore will receive the largest single piece of the fund — nearly $53 million will go to the city government for projects to permanently lower energy bills through energy efficiency work such as weatherization, upgrades and lower-usage education.
Projects by other groups will include cost-reduction measures for renters, manufacturers, small businesses and schools in the Baltimore region.
"Today is a great day for the customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company," the Public Service Commission said in its order.
BGE's residential customers each received a $100 credit on their May bills as part of the merger agreement. Critics had asked for that credit to be doubled, but the PSC ordered the creation of the fund instead in the hopes of producing longer-lasting results.
The commission said Thursday that the newly funded projects "offer an all-upside-and-no-downside opportunity to do real and durable good in and for Central Maryland."
Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano called the award an "absolutely huge" shot in the arm for programs the city has started — and now will be able to expand. ABSOLUTELY HUGE!!!!! THE CITY PAYS ALMOST THAT MUCH FOR BRASS FIXTURES ALONG A SHORT PIECE OF ENTERPRISE ZONE SIDEWALKS.
The city's approach is a coordinated effort to reduce energy bills, such as converting residents from oil heating systems to less expensive natural gas, fixing energy-guzzling homes and teaching people simple ways to reduce energy consumption. The city will also help nonprofits reduce energy costs so they can plow more money into community work.
"We have some success stories already," said Ken Strong, who oversees green, healthy and sustainable home efforts for the city's Department of Housing and Community Development. "We're going to have a lot more."
The city received nearly all the money it had requested. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who made the city's case for funding at a PSC hearing, said in a statement Thursday that greater energy efficiency will have a lasting impact on families' finances and "make our communities stronger."
The Maryland Energy Administration will receive $42.5 million for programs to cut bills for low-income people outside of Baltimore, apartment residents, manufacturers, small businesses and schools. The agency intends to create several "net zero" schools that generate all of their own energy.
The PSC was particularly struck by that last proposal, saying that "only six net zero schools exist nationwide."
•The Fuel Fund of Maryland, which will get nearly $14.9 million to create an endowment and give more BGE customers bill assistance.
•Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., which will receive $2 million for its no-interest loan fund for energy upgrades and renovations in the city and northwest Baltimore County.
•Baltimore County's Sustainable Dundalk Initiative, awarded $350,000 to reduce energy costs in the Dundalk community.
The remainder — about $902,000 — will go to BGE for administrative costs that the PSC said the utility would see as a result of funded programs. 1 MILLION FOR ITS OWN COSTS OF ADMINISTERING THIS 'DONATION'.
WE HAVE YET TO HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THE $2 BILLION FRAUD SETTLEMENT ATTACHED TO CALVERT CLIFFS AND HOW EXELON WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS PENALTY. WE KNOW THEY ARE MAKING A PROFIT ON THE NUCLEAR POWER. ALSO, NOTE THAT MARYLAND IS ONE OF A FEW 'DEREGULATED' UTILITIES IN THE COUNTRY. WHY LEAVE RATEPAYERS UNPROTECTED FROM THE CONSTANT LOSS OF POWER AND UNACCOUNTABILITY?
Calvert Cliffs nuclear power project facing 60-day deadline Federal regulators threaten to shelve new Calvert Cliffs reactor over foreign ownership
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun 8:29 p.m. EDT, August 31, 2012
Once promoted as the vanguard of a "nuclear renaissance," a proposed new reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Southern Maryland now faces a major new roadblock, with federal regulators threatening to shelve the troubled $9.6 billion project unless the French-controlled developer comes up with a U.S. partner in the next two months.
The ruling Thursday by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board was not unexpected, as the board's parent Nuclear Regulatory Commission had warned Unistar Nuclear Energy more than a year ago that it could not get a license for the Maryland reactor without a U.S. partner. Federal law prohibits foreign ownership or control of a U.S. nuclear plant, and Unistar is owned by the French energy group EDF.
Unistar was the first to submit even a partial application for a new nuclear reactor in the United States in nearly 30 years when it filed initial plans in 2007 for the third reactor at Calvert Cliffs near Lusby. But the project has been under a cloud for nearly two years, since Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, which now operates the two reactors at Calvert Cliffs, pulled out of its partnership in Unistar, leaving EDF in sole control.
Unistar did not respond Friday to requests for comment, but EDF previously has stated that it intends to obtain a U.S. partner for the project. In its 29-page ruling, though, the licensing board noted that Unistar has shown no progress in locating a new partner in nearly two years.
Opponents of the project hailed the licensing board's decision, calling it a victory for those who fear nuclear power is unsafe and a blow to the industry's revival.
"This is a great day for Maryland," Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said in a statement. The group, based in Takoma Park, had formally challenged the legality of Unistar's ownership years ago.
"Marylanders need not fear another dangerous nuclear reactor in our state," Mariotte added, "nor the accumulation of still more lethal radioactive waste on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay."
While the federal ruling is not necessarily the end of the project, observers say economic forces rather than legal or regulatory barriers are what's holding it back, and may ultimately kill it.
Though the Calvert Cliffs project was the first proposed in the so-called nuclear renaissance, a few others have proceeded as it languished. Construction is under way on new reactors in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, said Steve Kerekes, spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group.
In each of those states, Kerekes said, energy generation is still regulated, and developers of the reactor projects are able to charge ratepayers to help cover the costs as they are being built.
Projects in states like Maryland with unregulated energy markets must obtain private financing, a daunting task in the current economic climate.
A state official expressed disappointment but not surprise at the ruling. Gov. Martin O'Malley has supported the reactor project, which Unistar has said would employ about 4,000 people to build and another 350 to operate.
Maryland officials also had looked to the 1,600-megawatt reactor to help avert a projected power shortage in the state. The Public Service Commission warned five years ago that lack of new electricity generation and bottlenecks in transmission lines could produce rolling blackouts as early as last year.
But Malcolm D. Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, said the need for the reactor's power is not as great now. Economic conditions and the advent of cheap natural gas also have dimmed the nuclear project's prospects, he suggested.
Demand for electricity has yet to fully recover since the recession drove it down, Woolf said, and state-sponsored programs to encourage energy conservation have helped reduce electricity consumption, especially summer peak usage when air conditioners are turned up during heat waves. Blackouts are no longer on the horizon.
Two major transmission line projects that would have crossed the state were canceled recently, Woolf said, because of the lag in electricity demand caused by the still-slow economy and because of other energy projects coming online. One is a 600-megawatt natural gas plant under construction in Charles County, he pointed out.
Under the circumstances, prospects for Unistar to find a U.S. partner willing to invest in a new nuclear reactor don't seem bright. Constellation's CEO had said in 2010 that "unacceptable risks and costs" associated with getting federal backing for the project's financing prompted the company to pull out of the effort to build it.
Since then, Constellation has merged with Exelon Corp., the Chicago-based energy company that is the nation's leading operator of nuclear plants. But an Exelon spokesman made clear Friday that while the company is seeking to boost the output of its existing nuclear reactors, it's not interested in a project its merger partner walked away from.
"Exelon has no near-term plans to build a new nuclear plant," said spokesman Paul Adams.
Even if Unistar fails to meet the government deadline for finding a U.S. partner, the licensing board indicated it would reopen the case if the company could show progress toward meeting the law's ownership requirements.
In the meantime, the NRC staff still could continue its safety evaluation of the proposed reactor, said commission spokeswoman Diane Screnci. The commission has completed an environmental review of the project, and in a separate ruling Thursday the licensing board rejected opponents' objections to it.
If the NRC staff continues to review the proposed plant, that could be a silver lining of sorts, said Norman Meadow, vice chairman of the Maryland Conservation Council. He is one of a handful of environmentalists who has supported the nuclear project, arguing it would do less harm to the environment than wind turbines, solar farms and other renewable-energy projects.
Unistar has proposed using a reactor designed by AREVA, another French company, Meadow pointed out. Should that design pass muster with the NRC, it could smooth the way for other nuclear projects using the same reactor design, even if another reactor never gets built at Calvert Cliffs.
"Its sort of like a pothole in the road," Meadow said of the licensing decision. "It's not like a cliff that the bus ran over."
THIS COMMISSION GAVE ITS APPROVAL FOR A MEGER OF BGE WITH EXELON WITH ALL KINDS OF 'PROTECTIONS' FOR THE CONSUMER........INCLUDING GUARDS AGAINST RATE HIKES.........WELL HERE ARE THE RATE HIKES. CALL THE MEMBERS OF THIS COMMISSION AND TELL THEM TO STOP THIS HIKE!
BGE will seek distribution rate increase Utility plans to submit case to state regulators this year
By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun 9:52 p.m. EDT, June 7, 2012
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. plans to ask Maryland regulators later this year to allow it to raise rates for the distribution of electricity and natural gas, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., the utility's new owner, said Thursday.
Exelon executives told stock analysts during a meeting in New York that BGE had delayed filing the rate case while BGE's former parent company, Constellation Energy Group, finalized a merger with Exelon. The $7.9 billion deal, which created the largest nonutility energy provider in the United States, closed in March.
"Through the merger, we've held off on filing a rate case, and we will be filing our next rate case in the second half of 2012," said Denis O'Brien, a senior executive vice president of Exelon and CEO of Exelon Utilities, during the meeting. He did not elaborate.
If approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission, the state's public utility regulator, new rates would take effect no more than 210 days after the filing, the company said.
BGE's request will include "recovery of among other things, investments focused on electric and gas reliability, tree and vegetation management and other projects to continue to provide safe and reliable service to our customers," said Robert L. Gould, a BGE spokesman. "Parts of BGE's electric and gas system, much of which was built in the 1950s and 1960s, are approaching the end of their useful life and require new investments to ensure continued reliability."
Distribution charges, which cover delivery of power and gas to customers' homes, typically make up between a quarter and a third of a customer's bill.
"I'm not surprised they are going to come in for a rate case so soon after the merger, but I'm pretty disappointed," said Paula M. Carmody, the People's Counsel in the Office of People's Counsel, which represents rate payers. While the company presented the plans for a rate case as an indication of its commitment to a successful merger, "I don't think customers are going to consider an increase in their rate to be a sign of a successful merger."
The last BGE distribution rate hike took effect in December 2010, when residential customers were expected to pay, on average, an additional $16 on electric bills and $10 on gas bills a year. At the time, BGE said the increases would raise an estimated $30.9 million for electric distribution, as well as $9.75 million for gas delivery. The utility said those increases were needed to pay for system improvements at a time when power prices were falling.
The state's other two utilities, Pepco and Delmarva, are seeking increases in distribution rates. Both cases, filed in December, are pending before the Public Service Commission.
Exelon Utilities, which serves a combined 6.6 million electric customers and 1.1 million gas customers, is working to standardize equipment and systems and install "smart meters" in all service areas, O'Brien said. The company plans to invest about $690 million in BGE transmission projects through 2016.
Also Thursday, a company offical told the analysts that Exelon expects to have an agreement by August to sell three former Constellation coal plants that it agreed to relinquish under terms of the merger. They include the Brandon Shores and H.A. Wagner plants in Anne Arundel County and the C.P. Crane plant in Baltimore County.
The company started marketing the plants after the merger closed and is now reviewing bidders, said Bill Von Hoene, Exelon's chief strategy officer and a senior executive vice president. It expects the plants will be sold as a package, he said.
During the presentation, Exelon officials offered no new information on how the planned 600 job cuts would affect workers in Maryland as the company eliminates overlapping functions through next summer.
To win state regulators' approval of the merger, Exelon agreed that there would be no layoffs at BGE for at least two years after the merger closed. Still, that leaves hundreds of former Constellation employees vulnerable.
Over time, Exelon expects its employment to increase in Baltimore and in the state, said Exelon spokesman Paul Adams. Exelon is building a new headquarters tower in Harbor East that will house its commercial and renewable development businesses, seen as the growth engine for the new company. But Exelon's corporate headquarters remains in Chicago.
"We expect that positions could be eliminated across the entire corporation, but not all in any one location or company," Adams said