The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

We Pay, BGE Profits

Feb 20, 2023

A terra cotta conduit runs under the city of Baltimore. It is some 700 miles of pipes, mostly more than 100 years old, carrying the lines that allow Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) to deliver electricity, and Comcast and Verizon, a few other companies, and a university, to deliver phone and Internet services.

The city had been taking in over 37 million dollars per year for the rental fees on this conduit’s space. Four months ago, Baltimore voters passed an amendment to prevent the sale or franchising of any city infrastructure. Yet the mayor has just pushed through a deal to let BGE stop renting. Instead BGE will upgrade the conduit, at a cost over the next four years of more than 130 million dollars. After that, all the city gets is a 1.5 million dollar annual fee.

How is it, with a loss of maybe 30 million dollars per year, somehow the conduit will be in better hands with the private utility company? Whatever the lawyers argue this maneuver should be called, it is a form of privatization. How does privatization make things work better for city residents?

Instead of 30 million dollars coming into the city, city residents will have to pay more. The day after the deal went through, BGE went in front of the Maryland Public Utility Commission to ask for a rate increase. Only the shareholders win on this deal.