Baltimore Area Residents Send “Don’t Raise My Rates” Holiday Cards to BGE

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staff | TPIN

 BALTIMORE – Today, consumer and labor advocates launched a holiday card writing campaign aimed at reining in Baltimore Gas and Electric’s (BGE’s) proposed multi-year rate hikes. Ratepayers, whose budgets are tighter than ever, will use the holiday cards to let the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) and BGE know the company’s proposed $602.4 million multi-year rate hike, apparently financed in part by its conduit deal with Baltimore City, is a bad deal for energy customers. 

BGE is a state granted monopoly with no market competition, so its rates are reviewed and approved by the PSC. The Commission is expected to make a decision on BGE’s proposed rate hike in early December, in the heart of the holiday season. 

“The monopolization that BGE has on the city is harming families of all sizes, myself included. Even with only two individuals in my home, my bill increases every month. Despite taking actions to reduce energy usage, my bill remains unaffordable. A rate hike would hurt more residents in the city. It’s greedy and unnecessary,” said Dina Kuniken, healthcare worker and 1199SEIU Health Care Workers East member.

1199SEIU Health Care Workers East,, Economic Action Maryland, and Maryland PIRG Foundation are facilitating the card writing campaign. The coalition is concerned by  BGE’s lack of transparency, including its attempt to shield  a memorandum outlining the finances for its conduit deal with the City.  On Monday, the PSC ordered the utility to make the document public and gave the company 10 days to propose redactions.

“We applaud the Public Service Commission for standing up for transparency in the ratemaking process,” said Maryland PIRG director Emily Scarr.  “Our message to the Public Service Commission and BGE this holiday season is simple: don’t leave us out in the cold. We’re counting on you to stop the massive multi-year rate hikes.” 

Advocates and the card writers are calling on BGE to disclose the memo sooner, citing concerns that the company seeks to pad shareholder profits and increase long term costs to ratepayers, despite its claims that the deal would save ratepayers money.

Rate hikes are traditionally one time adjustments rather than multi-year structures. Consumer advocates and environmental groups are particularly concerned by BGE’s proposal to spend $1.8 billion on new gas infrastructure, which is a key driver in the rate increases and will exacerbate air pollution.

“Throughout the public comment period this fall, ratepayers strongly rejected BGE’s outrageous plan to raise our rates in order to fund more planet-burning fossil fuel infrastructure. The PSC must put people and the planet ahead of BGE’s profits and reject this rate hike,” said Taylor Smith-Hams, US Senior Organizer with 

The PSC is expected to make a ruling on the proposed multi-year rate hike by mid-December.

The best present the PSC could give us would be a vote for transparency and affordable rates,” said Marceline White, Executive Director of Economic Action Maryland. “Many of our supporters are struggling to provide a holiday meal and presents for their families while worrying about having heat and lights in their homes.”