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

Politicians Just Can’t Figure How to Stop Huge Electric Rate Hike!

Mar 27, 2006

BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric Company) recently announced it would increase its electric rates 72% on July 1. The average residential customer would have to pay about $750 more per year.

BGE claims this huge increase is necessary because it hasn’t been able to raise its electric rates for the past six years. And it says it has to pay much higher prices for electricity on the open market now, because damage caused by Hurricane Katrina drove up prices for the natural gas used to produce some of its electricity.

Lies! BGE is not buying its electricity on the “open market.” It’s buying it–at a very low price–from its parent company Constellation Energy, which was created a few years ago when BGE split in two. Its highly profitable power plants were given to Constellation, while BGE kept control over the distribution of gas and electricity. Most of this electricity is generated in the low-cost coal and nuclear power plants that Constellation got from BGE. Very little of it is generated using oil or natural gas. Even though BGE’s rates have been frozen while natural gas prices have been soaring, both BGE and Constellation have been making handsome profits.

BGE, the Maryland Public Service Commission and all the top state officials say huge electric rate increases are part of deregulating the public utility industry. They say the best they can do is stretch out the rate increase over a couple of years and allow BGE to charge everyone interest on the part of the rate increase that is delayed, in addition to the rate increase itself!

What a scam they are trying to run–trying to force through enormously higher prices for gas and electricity. Remember the same type of scam run in California a few years ago? Enron and other energy companies held the entire population of California hostage to demands for huge price increases.

What BGE is doing is criminal. If it can’t provide enough electricity at cheap prices, let the state seize the assets of both companies–power plants, electric grids, gas pipelines and other equipment. Run it in the interest of the population!

The owners of BGE/Constellation have fattened themselves for decades at the expense of everyone who has had to scratch year after year to pay their gas and electric bills. Time to turn the tables!