May 31, 2006

Political demagoguery alert

We here in Baltimore and neighboring environs have been waiting to hear whether our electricity bills will go up or not. It seems six years ago BG&E, our electricity provider, signed an agreement that they wouldn't raise rates until July 2006. This was what officials at the time called "deregulation."

BG&E announced sometime in the last month or so that rates for electricity would rise an average of 72 percent. The governor--who's running for re-election--then worked out a deal with the utility that would allow customers to pay for the increase in installments. The state legislature mouthed off for a while and threatened to block the utility's merger with another company and then let the matter drop. Then the public service commission OK'd the deal and BG&E began "educating consumers" on the issue.

Enter the mayor, who's likely the governor's opponent in the upcoming election. The mayor, naturally, was overcome with compassion for "working families." So the Baltimore City Council brought the rate hike to court. A judge sided with the council and the issue has been sent back to the public service commission.

This has brought forth a slew of ads from BG&E in which they point out that prices for everything else has changed over the past six years while electricity rates remained the same. And the governor's "compassionate" rate hike is probably out of the question.

Either way, we're screwed.

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