Electric rate regulation in Maryland has become so, uh, I can’t think of a nice way to say it. Here’s the short version of the story: Years ago when Maryland passed a law restructuring its state electric industry, it placed Baltimore Gas & Electric electric rates under a long-term rate cap. That rate cap expires July 1 this year, during a time of high fuel prices, and rates were going to jump 72 percent. The rate hike has concerned consumers and alarmed state politicians, and politicians have been in a tizzy since it was announced. The (Republican) Governor has supported the state’s regulators, while the (Democrat-dominated) state legislature has been strongly opposed.
A recent law, passed over the Governor’s veto, defers some of the rate increase until later, fires the state regulatory commissioners, and directs the Governor to appoint a new commission from a list of nominees to be supplied by legislative leaders. The Chairman of the regulatory commission has filed suit against the legislator, challenging the dismissal.
In a post on the PFF blog, Ray Gifford explains the poor consequences for Marylanders from all of this grandstanding with more thoughtfulness and reason than I can muster on the topic. Personally, I think that the legislators must be a bunch of short-sighted, self-serving … well, just go read Ray.