Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Maryland should be more like DC

Today's Gazette reports an attempt to wrest control of Pepco's remaining cash cow streetlight monopoly. Some local governments in Maryland, fed up with poor service and high costs want to take over ownership and maintenance of the streetlights. A bill to enable just that passed the Maryland Senate in the previous session but was held up in a house committee. Pepco is under threat of a revived bill if they don't clean up their act.

The District of Columbia Government took over ownership and maintenance of their streetlights in 1984 as part of negotiations during a big rate deal.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Competition to Pepco is .... Pepco?

The Montgomery County political blog Moco Progressive reports on the Pepco rate increase and ways to conserve energy. Interestingly, Pepco Energy Services is one of the choices that Pepco customers can select as an alternative supplier of electricity generation. Pepco Energy Services offers a renewable wind energy option, however, the somehow the price of wind has somehow magicially increased...


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Override in Annapolis

As reported today by Steve Vogel in the Washington Post, the General Assembly returned to Annapolis to easily override Governor Ehrlich's veto of the special session electricity regulation legislation. The law has many provisions over and above addressing BGE rate increases. In one sense, it re-regulates the industry by allowing utilities to once again own power plants. Pepco customers get a tiny amount of relief and get an extension to join the interest-free deferral plan. The law also fires the People's Counsel and the members of the industry-friendly Maryland Public Service Commission and puts stumbling blocks in front of any legal challenges. Governor Ehrlich had appointed four out of the five sitting commissioners. PSC Chair and former General Assembly wunderkind Ken Schisler had filed a suit against a previous similar law. The General Assembly gets to pick a list of names for the PSC chair and members for the Governor to select. If the Governor makes no pick, the General Assembly makes the final selection. So, I wonder who will be on the short list for the new PSC?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pepco customers need love too!

The Maryland General Assembly is back in Annapolis for a Special Session. The focus has been on firing the PSC commissioners and on rate relief for BGE customers near Baltimore who might face a 72% increase. What about some help for Pepco customers who have seen equally large increases (albeit in stages)?

As reported by Ann Marimow and Matthew Mosk in today's Washington Post, there is much Maryland could learn from Pepco regulators in Washington DC. The plan is to match the way the DC handles power auctions to ease future rate increases.

What else could Maryland learn from Washington DC to better manage our public works and utilities?

The District seems way ahead in a number of areas. For example, many traffic signals in DC for years have used more efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LED) rather than Edison era incandescent bulbs. Besides reduced maintenance and energy costs, LED traffic signals can be connected to a backup power supply so that they continue to work for several hours during power outages. But here in Maryland, the State Highway Administration is still using the old technology even on brand new traffic signals. A good example is the brand new signal on Connecticut Avenue just outside the beltway.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pepco and Mirant make nice

As reported in the Washington Post, Pepco and Mirant have settled their their long running feud that began back in 2000 after Pepco sold all of their power generating plants to the Atlanta company. Now Pepco will own a chunk of Mirant and get some cash.

Maybe Pepco can use the money to make needed investments in their core business of reliably distributing electricity. Here in the Maryland suburbs, around mid-day there was no wind or rain, just heat. Pepco's network failed.