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David Nitkin on state politics issues

Electricity ratesTom, Baltimore: I read your comments about the deregulation of electricity, etc. What I still don't understand is why many Marylanders are being forced to subsidize other electric bills. It was my understanding that under the most recently passed legislation, we all must pay at least a $2.19 service fee every month for the next 10 years so that we would have an 11-month rate cap.

What happens next June when the rate cap expires and there are no elections? I would say we will pay the difference between the original 72 percent and the current legislated 15 percent, plus any additional energy costs, so we will end up paying more than the current 72 percent, plus still have to pay this outrageous $2.19 service fee. Why did the General Assembly allow this to happen? Are there any legislators out there right now who want to look out for the consumer and submit early legislation that would kill this $2.19 surcharge?

Nitkin: Legislators hope that a new Public Service Commission will provide greater scrutiny of the proposed merger between the parent company of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Constellation Energy Group, and a Florida utility owner, FPL Group Inc. The new law also changes the way that BGE goes to the energy markets to purchaseelectricity. Legislators hope that these components of their plan lower energy bills in the future, but there is no guarantee.

I have not heard of plans to try to remove the charge. Lawmakers and BGE officials say the charge is necessary to allow the company to borrow money at competitive rates to pay for the 11-month deferral.

ElectionsJohn, Havre de Grace: Why did Douglas M. Duncan withdraw from the primary race for governor? We have been out of town and must have missed the information in The Sun. Thank you.

Nitkin: Duncan withdrew shortly after receiving a medical diagnosis of clinical depression. (Read the June 23 article.)

CoverageMiles Long, Baltimore: Why did The Sun ignore the fights that took place in Baltimore after the July Fourth fireworks?

Nitkin: I asked Sun assistant city editor Peter Hermann to answerthis.

"A reporter who checked with police shortly after 11 p.m. on July 4 -- after scenes were reported on television news -- was told that no arrests had been made. The next day, July 5, city police said more than a dozen people had indeed been arrested in what amounted to a large fight. We reported this July 6. I would not categorize this as a riot, but as a fight (several staff members in the vicinity reported seeing lots of police pour into a specific area, but did not know there was a fight until they were told later)."

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