Re-Regulation of Utilities

The Maryland General Assembly has been considering legislation that would re-regulate utilities in Maryland. With only two weeks left to go in the Session, the Senate has passed a re-regulation bill with over forty amendments and is now asking the House Economic Matters Committee for its consideration. Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio has voiced opposition to the measure citing cost, consumer choice and the negative effect it would have on renewable energies as her main points of contention.

Utility Costs

Testimony in the House Economic Matters Committee consistently pointed out that rates will not go down as a result of re-regulation. Additionally, the legislation includes a tax called a “bypassable wires charge”. While the House version of the bill said that the charge may be imposed on all ratepayers in the State, the Senate bill says that the charge shall be imposed. Haddaway argues that added another charge, or tariff, to consumers bills will only exacerbate an already bad situation.

Consumer Choice

The legislation not only affects residential customers, but small commercial customers. In the hearing, Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio referenced one of her constituents who has a three year contract with a competitive supplier at 10 cents, which will save them nearly $300 a year and 5% of their purchase is coming from wind power. Under that ratepayer’s same scenario, they could be purchasing up to 50% wind power and still pay cheaper rates. She offered a similar example of the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s Education Consortium’s Energy Trust, which purchases power for public schools on the Eastern Shore. To date, they have saved taxpayers over $7 million in electricity costs, but under this legislation, they would no longer be able to do so. The Delmarva Poultry Industry also testified against the bill citing utility costs as one of the biggest challenges to the poultry industry right now.

Renewable Energies

Renewable energies benefit from a competitive market. Additionally they benefit when they have the flexibility to enter into long term contracts. According to Haddaway, companies such as Clean Currents are offering competitive rates right now, which in her opinion, is evidence that the market is heading in the right direction. In a recent newsletter, this company was quoted as saying “[Re-regulation] would not only take away green power options…it would put the solar and wind industry in Maryland in jeopardy.” In the hearing, Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio also points out that there is a greater likelihood that new generation will end up being coal fired power plants under a regulated regime.

For more information on this and other issues, please feel free to contact Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio’s office by calling (410) 841-3429 or by emailing jeannie.haddaway@house.state.md.us.

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