- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Lawmakers unhappy with a 72 percent rate increase proposed for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (BGE) customers now have financial data about the company that could help them decide whether to call a special session to address rate relief.

A day after receiving the data, though, top legislators said it was too soon to know what they will do with the information.

The company turned over the information to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George’s County Democrat, after they asked for details about the company’s financial situation.

Democratic lawmakers tried but failed in the legislative session this year to pass a measure to soften the blow of the 72 percent rate increase expected for BGE residential customers in July when rate caps expire.

A Baltimore judge Tuesday put the fate of the rate increase into question when he ruled that the utility-regulating Public Service Commission (PSC) erred in approving the increase.

The judge, siding with Baltimore officials in the lawsuit, said the PSC needs to hold another review before the increase takes effect.

A day after that ruling, BGE’s parent company, Constellation Energy Group, turned over financial information to Mr. Busch and Mr. Miller.

They requested details on Constellation’s pending merger with a Florida utility, including the size of bonuses and severance packages promised to company executives if the merger is completed.

Yesterday, Mr. Busch said he was just starting to review the data, which lawmakers have been requesting since the past legislative session.

“This is information we did not get during the legislative session,” Mr. Busch said.

Miller spokeswoman Lisa McMurray said Mr. Miller and Mr. Busch will decide how to proceed after reviewing the numbers.

“We just want to make sure that the deal the PSC arranged for the rate increase is in the best interest of the consumer,” she said.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election, negotiated a deal with the company to allow BGE’s customers to phase in the rate increase.

Democrats have complained that the Ehrlich phase-in plan requires customers to pay the whole increase, just in slower increments.

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