I have written several times before about the Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E) rate hike and why it is warranted. For those who are unfamiliar, I will give the condensed version. Maryland has had Democrats running the state for decades. The last Governor was the first Republican in more than three decades. In 1999, long before he served as Governor, the Maryland General Assembly and the Public Service Commission (PSC) along with Governor Glendening (a Democrat) decided that deregulation of the energy company would be good for business by forcing competition (O’Malley’s brother-in-law was a member of that PSC). The fact that some of the key players received a lot of money from lobbyists did not play into this (no, not at all). They passed a bill that held BG&E to 1993 electric rates for seven years. When that time was up there had been no competition (who wants to do business where you can not make money because you are held to 1993 rates?) and the rates were scheduled to go up 72%. Governor Ehrlich tried to get a plan that would ease this burden but indicated that eventually people would have to pay the piper. Baltimore City Mayor (Saint) Martin O’Malley opposed this plan, took it to court and got a 15% increase instead of the Ehrlich plan or the entire 72%.
Then, O’Malley ran a campaign based upon his concern for our working families and he told everyone he beat back Ehrlich and his PSC. O’Malley said the reason that they would not do anything was because Ehrlich and the PSC were in bed with the energy companies. The Saint Martin plan did not allow customers to opt in to pay the full increase. Instead, the government told people they had to phase it in and pay an interest charge (and this from people who can not balance their own budget). The legislators in Annapolis deferred any further rate talks until after the gubernatorial election which O’Malley won. The affluent people in the wealthy DC suburbs voted for him and the poor folks in Baltimore City and the poorer DC suburbs voted for him and that is all you need to win in Maryland because they are the most populated areas (and are infested with Democrats). People voted for Saint Martin because he was looking out for them, their champion and because he was a Democrat. Well, things seem to have changed a bit since Saint Martin pledged to prevent the 50% increase from taking effect (the next increase due under the plan worked out by Marty with the help of the court). He promised that he would not let the evil energy company screw the people, dragon slayer that he is.
Saint Martin got in office and appointed his own PSC, honorable people who were not like those business lackeys of Ehrlich’s. These were Saint Martin’s chosen ones who were going to look out for the people. During the last legislative session, Saint Marty’s first, nary a word was uttered about rate hikes as the state worried about pressing things such as smoking in bars and apologizing for slavery. The session ended without the issue being addressed and Saint Martin, who was so vocal about Ehrlich and rate hikes, was remarkably silent on the issue.
Today, Martin O’Malley’s Public Service Commission allowed the rate increase of 50%. The did it reluctantly, as if that makes a difference. They also did it because there was no legal basis to stop it. There was only a legal basis when a judge helped out Marty so he could look like the people’s champion. Here is what the PSC had to say:
“It is with reluctance, but with little legal option, the commission had determined that the supply cost justifies the rate hike,” Commission Chairman Steven Larsen said at an afternoon news conference. WBAL
The evil Ehrlich PSC had the same options but they were branded as unacceptable by the Saint. He and his Lt. Governor have vowed to do something to take the strain off working families but if they really could and if he really intended to when he was full of bluster while charging Ehrlich with crimes against humanity, wouldn’t he have done so before now? The truth is he scored a short term victory at the hands of the court and he won an election based partly upon a promise he had no intention of keeping. Marylanders who are in the BG&E service area will now pay a 75% increase. Yes, 75% or 3% higher than the original increase. You see, Saint Martin got the first increase held to 15% which people have been paying. Now they will have 50% added on top of that for a grand total of 75%. That Saint Marty sure knows how to help the poor working stiffs.
I will start off by stating that the increase does not affect me because I moved out of their area several years ago and my utility company has increased with the market so I am where I need to be. The poor folks in Baltimore and the surrounding counties are the ones who are going to feel this and they are feeling it just in time for the hazy, hot, and humid Summer for which Maryland is famous. Just in time to run the AC and watch that electric meter spin like a Frisbee on steroids. And God help me, I love it.
I have known for a long time that pain is a great teacher. If a person grabs a pot lid and gets burned that person will check next time. People tend to avoid the things that hurt them. This rate increase is going to hurt a lot of people, especially this Summer when it is a million degrees in the shade. I am very happy that this will happen because the bulk of the people who voted for Saint Martin because he was their hero will be the ones affected and I want them to suffer. I want them to have to decide between being cool or eating. I want them to have to get rid of cell phones or cable TV to afford their electric bill. I want them to be screaming for mercy for voting for Martin O’Malley. Yes, I want this to be excruciatingly painful to them so they will think about their vote each and every time they open their electric bills.
This might sound mean spirited and nasty to many of you and I intend it to be. The people who vote to put tax and spend Democrats in charge of Maryland year after year do so based on promises of more government handouts and more social programs. They are never concerned that those who worked and paid taxes had to support them through those programs. They never cared because it was some other person who had to pay and not them. Well now they have to pay and I want it to be the most agonizingly horrible pain they have had to deal with in their lifetimes. I want them to understand that it is just as painful for us taxpayers to foot the bill for them as it is for them to pay their electric bills. I want them to understand that because of social programs put in place by the people they vote for, we taxpayers have had to do without so they could benefit and I want them to get burned so badly by this that they think carefully before they blindly select anyone so long as there is a D after his name.
Add the tax increases on gasoline, sales of goods, and a number of other things that Saint Martin will get next year and we have the makings of a real pain fest for some time to come. What you reap, so you shall sow and these folks are definitely reaping what they have sown. It is about time their selection hurt them instead of the tax base.
I feel badly for elderly folks who will be in the heat and have to decide between cat food and AC but they voted for Saint Marty too so they can either see if he will let them stay at the Governor’s mansion or find out now which cat food is the most palatable.
Oh my, this will be a fun Summer. I wonder how long it will be before the folks demand O’Malley’s head on a platter? I bet O’Malley blames Ehrlich for the whole mess long before the people make that demand.
As an aside, Bob Ehrlich and his PSC must feel a bit of vindication over all of this. I am sure that Ehrlich actually feels terrible about it and is worried about the people it will affect. He has a hell of a lot more class than I do.
I say, let them eat cake.