- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Charles R. Boutin, a Harford County Republican, resigned yesterday from the state’s Public Service Commission, becoming the second appointee of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, to quit.

Mr. Boutin’s resignation is effective March 7, said Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office.

The governor’s office yesterday also announced the new chairman of the utility regulating commission will make $117,000, compared with the $185,000-a-year salary of former Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler, a Republican who stepped down last month amid pressure to leave the job.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, defeated Mr. Ehrlich in November and frequently criticized the five-member commission during his campaign.

Mr. O’Malley has nominated former Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen to replace Mr. Schisler.

O’Malley Chief of Staff Michael Enright has asked the state budget secretary also to review the salaries of other commissioners, who now make $99,000 a year.

“Please keep in mind the complexity of the work involved and the enormous — literally multibillion-dollar — impact of the PSC’s decisions,” he said.

A spokesman for the governor said he “hopes to fill the position as soon as possible.”

Mr. Larsen and the replacement for Mr. Boutin must be approved by the state Senate.

Mr. Boutin said he was leaving to spend more time with his family.

“We got through a lot of difficult times,” he said. “I just made a personal decision.”

Mr. Boutin also predicted rolling blackouts in Maryland as soon as two years from now because of a dwindling energy supply and the state’s inability to build new power-generating plants quickly.

“You just can’t build this stuff fast enough,” he said.

Mr. Boutin also said three factors are contributing to the state’s potential energy crisis: the cost of generating power, the cost of fuel and the cost of building transmission lines to tap into cheaper energy markets to the west.

He cited a 2003 report delivered to the General Assembly detailing the state’s pending energy crisis.

Mr. Boutin was one of two remaining commissioners appointed by Mr. Ehrlich. The other Ehrlich appointee, Allen M. Freifeld, has a term through 2009.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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