New power grid fee helps cover costs

The Baltimore Sun

Jay Hancock's column "Rigging electricity?" (April 18) levels unfounded criticisms at PJM Interconnection for its efforts to ensure the reliability of the electric grid that serves the District of Columbia, Maryland and 12 other states.

The column decries the "capacity charge" as "pure profit" for power generators.

In reality, it's a fee to cover the expenses of maintaining uneconomic generators that are needed to maintain the grid's reliability in times of high demand but otherwise would be shut down.

Mr. Hancock also criticized PJM's new capacity-market approach, which will stimulate investment in new supply resources where they are needed.

Far from being a "bonus," the new approach reflects a response to the fact that from 1999 to 2006, a new generating plant in the PJM area could not earn enough revenue to cover the cost of the investment.

Investments in improving our power supply are needed to offset the retirement of some generators and address the rising demand for electricity.

PJM's new capacity approach is designed to ensure that adequate capacity is available, now and in the future.

Andrew Ott

Norristown, Pa.

The writer is a vice president of PJM Interconnection.

Emphasis on autos degrades urban life

It was disappointing to read that both the Legg Mason project at Harbor East and the Lexington Square apartments on Baltimore's west side will feature enormous, 1,000-space parking garages ("Towering vision for west side," April 12, and "Panel OKs Harbor East design," April 13).

City officials need to recognize that these areas are densely populated, walkable places that can support a lifestyle less dependent on cars.

The west side is the area's transit hub, with access to the Metro subway, the light rail and many local bus routes. Harbor East is a short walk from a wide variety of retail establishments.

I can't imagine two areas of the city where a person could live more easily without a car.

Yet, while cities such as San Francisco and Portland, Ore., are embarking on policies that will lead to fewer downtown parking spaces, Baltimore continues to develop places for cars first and people second.

Unfortunately, our streets are reaching full capacity, and every new car we allow downtown worsens traffic, delays transit services and degrades the quality of urban life.

If city officials change their policies so that we have fewer parking spaces in walkable, transit-friendly areas, new development projects may enhance downtown rather than detract from it.

Richard Chambers


The writer is executive director of One Less Car Inc.

State must brace for tax increases

The question all middle-class Maryland taxpayers should be considering this week is: What did our new governor and the General Assembly do for us in the recently concluded 2007 session?

Not even C. Fraser Smith could come up with anything worth mentioning in his column "Democratic high-fiving before the storm" (Opinion * Commentary, April 15).

Marylanders must now prepare for significant tax increases coming in 2008, as state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has all but promised.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think taxpayers would have seen a much stronger effort to reduce state spending before resorting to tax increases in 2008 if former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. were still in charge.

Oh, well, I can only assume that the majority of Marylanders are ready and willing to pay higher taxes next year.

After all, that is what they voted for.

Tom Decker

Severna Park

Gun critics exploit Va. Tech tragedy

In its "Notable Quotable" for April 19, The Sun cites Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine on the Virginia Tech tragedy: "I think that people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride ... I've got nothing but loathing for them."

According to The Sun, he was referring to those using the tragedy "to bolster their arguments in the debate over gun ownership."

Mr. Kaine's statement aptly applies to Dan Rodricks' column of the same day ("Sadly, mass killings are no longer shocking," April 19).

K. P. Heinemeyer


Massacres in Iraq can still be stopped

Cho Seung-Hui's horrific massacre at Virginia Tech can be likened to the suicide bombings that occur daily in Iraq ("Killer walked among them," April 18).

Imagine attacks of this scale or greater occurring on U.S. soil, but with morbid predictability and certainty ("Bloodshed sets back U.S. effort in Baghdad," April 19).

I am horrified and saddened by the terrible incident at Virginia Tech.

I am likewise horrified and saddened that our nation continues to allow our president to pursue his failed policy in Iraq - but now with a greater number of troops, some of whose tours of duty have been extended - and expect to achieve a different result.

Regrettably, our outrage over Cho Seung-Hui's massacre cannot change anything that happened to the unfortunate victims at Virginia Tech.

In contrast, outrage over the war in Iraq could still make a difference for the Iraqis who will be certainly massacred tomorrow, next week and seemingly indefinitely based on the current failed strategy.

Janine Michaelson


The writer is a captain in the Individual Ready Reserve of the U.S. Army and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Innocent Iraqis also in the wrong place

I thank the writer of the courageous letter "Iraq's daily carnage causes less outrage" (April 17). I had the same thoughts but was afraid to say them aloud.

I grieve for those families and friends of the students in Virginia who were destroyed by one obviously disturbed person's heinous actions.

But I was offended by President Bush's statement that the Virginia Tech victims were "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

I immediately thought of all of the innocent Iraqis and U.S. troops who die every day in Iraq because they are "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Kim McCarthy

Bel Air

Giving voice to killer will inspire others

I am outraged at The Sun's decision to place an image of Cho Seung-Hui from his "multimedia manifesto" so prominently on Thursday's front page ("Gunman's last words," April 19).

The Sun should be ashamed of itself.

It is more than obvious that this deeply troubled young man deliberately planned this mayhem to be a media event.

By giving him what he wanted, The Sun has not only dishonored the innocent victims and brought additional pain to the surviving loved ones but, along with the rest of the mass media, has also virtually guaranteed that there will be another school shooting.

Craig McLaughlin

Bel Air

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