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

Coal, Electricity, Profit

Jun 26, 2023

Maryland officials are deciding whether to let the Potomac Edison electric company charge customers in western and central Maryland an additional 357 million dollars through the end of the decade. The charge is the fee for Potomac Edison to get out of its high-priced contract with AES Warrior Run, which runs one of Maryland’s last coal-fired power plants.

The Warrior Run plant has been super-expensive (not to mention polluting) since it was first built three decades ago. At the time, AES said it would save customers 876 million dollars. But Potomac Edison said the coal-sourced power has cost customers over one billion dollars more than other forms of electricity.

So why did Potomac Edison sign its multi-billion dollar contract with AES three decades ago? Because Maryland officials said to! Citing a 1978 federal law, Maryland officials provided 73 million dollars of tax-exempt bonds for AES to build the plant. They passed a tax break for power companies using coal mined in Maryland, which cost taxpayers up to 14 million dollars a year. The city of Cumberland spent 10 million dollars for new water and sewer lines for the plant.

The kicker? Two big bosses of AES, who own more than a billion dollars of stock in the company, were among the federal officials behind the 1978 law—which they claimed would promote renewable energy and fight big business!

There’s nothing new under the sun, especially in this system where energy is for profit.