12:00 PM EDT, August 1, 2012
Here we go again: BGE, which has a miserable reputation for maintaining its distribution grid, is seeking yet another rate increase ("BGE requests rate increase for electric, gas distribution," July 27). Subscribers are ever more susceptible to power outages because BGE has cut its operating costs at consumers' expense.
BGE reduced its operating costs (and its ability to provide consistently available power) by reducing its maintenance and service capabilities. Now it wants the under-serviced subscribers to once again underwrite its managerial failures.
So the Public Service Commission is firing up its smoke generator and unpacking the mirrors as this dog and pony show is about to begin.
Here's how it goes: For one reason or another, let's say that BGE actually "needs" $1 million from subscribers. So it goes to the PSC (which is already in bed with the company) and make the case that it needs $3 million to get by.
The PSC (keep in mind that they already know what is going on) automatically goes into its "for public consumption only mode," saying there is no way it is going to allow BGE to gouge the consumers like that! "You will not get $3 million dollars," it says. "You'll have to be satisfied with half that amount — $1.5 million."
The dumbed-down public says, hey, look at that PSC, they didn't allow BGE to screw us again! Meanwhile BGE's executives come out with more than they actually need. It's a joke!
BGE is a monopoly. "No it isn't," you say, "you can purchase your electricity from another vendor."
That's correct — except there's a big "but" that goes with it: BGE owns the distribution grid. No matter who provides your electricity, it is "delivered" by BGE.
BGE should be compelled to reimburse any subscriber who is without power for more than 24 hours, at the rate of one and a half times what it would charge had it delivered the energy.
The PSC should be dissolved and replaced by a consumer advocate group, and the smoke generator should be given to Gov.Martin O'Malley, along with the mirrors — he really needs them.
Bob DiStefano, Abingdon
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