The state of Maryland and the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. -- with help from a former politician with feet in both camps -- have settled a dispute over how much money the state owes the utility for a delinquent electric bill.
The two sides signed an agreement May 26 for the state to pay BGE $1.6 million for electricity used at the state office complex at 201 and 301 W. Preston St. from 1987 to 1992.
It wasn't that the state failed to pay its bill. It never got one. Somehow, someone connected a major cable in the building's limited-access mechanical room in such a way that it bypassed BGE's electric meters. The mistake was not discovered until March 1992.
After that, the state and BGE began negotiating how much the state owed. Although BGE demanded as much as $2 million, state officials obtained an internal memo showing that company officials were willing to settle for less.
When negotiations bogged down this winter, and with the statute of limitations about to expire, BGE sued the state in Baltimore County Circuit Court for $1.9 million, plus $64,000 in late charges and an unspecified amount of interest and court costs.
In recent weeks, former House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., a Kent County Democrat who has worked closely with Gov. William Donald Schaefer for years and who this spring was hired by BGE as a political consultant, brought the two sides together, said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's chief of staff.
"Both parties wanted to put this behind them," said BGE spokesman Arthur J. Slusark.