MAPSA applauds new Maryland court stay

In yet another twist to the deregulation battle in Maryland, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge issued a stay Friday that will keep Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., a Constellation Energy Group unit, from implementing a deregulation plan.


In yet another twist to the deregulation battle in Maryland, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge issued a stay Friday that will keep Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., a Constellation Energy Group unit, from implementing a deregulation plan.

Competition and new lower rates were slated to begin on July 1 for BGE customers. Friday's circuit court decision continues to hold in abeyance a November 1999 order by the Maryland Public Service Commission approving BGE's plan while the court prepares to hear the arguments of the parties.

On June 30, the Court of Appeals of Maryland imposed a similar injunction upon the BGE plan while it determined whether or not the Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association (MAPSA) should be allowed standing before the Maryland courts. Thursday the Court of Appeals supported MAPSA's right to a judicial review of the commission order. The court also remanded the case back to the circuit court where the case now will be reviewed on the merits.

"We are very happy that we will have the opportunity to make our case before the Maryland courts,'' said Suzanne Daycock, MAPSA executive director.

In its case before the circuit court, MAPSA is challenging a 1999 settlement brokered by BGE that traded a 6.5% rate discount for more than $500 million in payments from customers.

MAPSA argues these payments should not be extracted from customers as the cost of the additional savings and new products that would otherwise be available to them due to robust competition among suppliers. Electricity competitors claimed that the default price charged by BGE and approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) was simply too low for any meaningful competition to take place.

The default price or standard offer price is what the utility charges consumers who don�t switch suppliers and remain with the utility. If that price is too low, few competitors can enter the market and offer alternative service, MAPSA argues.

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