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Martin O’Malley and PEPCO Connected by More than Just Incompetence

In case you missed the MOAB The Atlantic’s Gregg Easterbrook dropped on Governor O’Malley last week on his week, please check it out.  Easterbrook—a victim of many PEPCO outages—reminded O’Malley that his energy policy failures may very well come back to haunt him on the way to the White House in 2016.  Easterbrook’s piece is a thoroughly enjoyable fisking of a governor who seems to care more about Sunday morning talk shows than governing.  However, please allow me to Tuesday morning quarterback Mr. Easterbrook, as there is more to the story.
I’m sure Easterbrook and many other angry customers will be thrilled to know that—thanks to O’Malley’s own energy policy—PEPCO along with BG&E and Delmarva Power can charge them for power they never used.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s begin back during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.  It was then mayor O’Malley who demagogued a 72% BG&E rate increase, and lambasted Public Service Commission chairman, Ken Schisler, as an energy industry stooge.   In fact, the increase was a result of the removal of rate caps, part of larger deregulation plan enacted by the legislature in 1999, and approved by previous PSC commissioners—including O’Malley’s own brother-in law.  O’Malley promised to roll back the rate increase.
During a televised debate with Ehrlich, O’Malley said

As Governor I am going to appoint competent, qualified, professional regulators to the job so that we actually have a hearing to determine what is the fair and reasonable rate that BGE can charge us for this commodity they buy. That did not happen in this case. There is no clearer issue that separates my governing philosophy from the governor’s than this one I will stand with the, rate payers, consumers, and working people of our state, he will always side with the powerful wealthy energy interests and utility lobbyists… The only guarantee we have is that if you [Ehrlich] get reelected we’re all going to be paying a lot more for energy.

Fast forward to July 2012, and we have those “competent, qualified, professional regulators” admitting they dropped the ball on holding PEPCO after several years of declining reliability performance. 
Bob Ehrlich isn’t governor but we’re still paying a lot more for energy.  Retail electricity rates spiked 54% during O’Malley’s first three years office. Rates decreased over the last two years because of drop in demand due to the recession, not O’Malley’s policies
Then there are the rank political shakedowns.  In July 2010, similar thunderstorms raked the state causing outages to hundreds of thousands of PEPCO customers.  O’Malley targeted his bluster at the utility, and suddenly PEPCO executives and board members donated $20,000 to his reelection campaign.  One month later O’Malley, as member of the Board of Public Works approved a $20 million energy efficiency project for PEPCO at BWI Airport.  Last year, O’Malley perpetrated another shakedown of Constellation Energy during its merger with Exelon Corp, getting billions from the companies to burnish his green credentials.  Of course, Exelon’s $250,000 donation to the Democratic Governor’s Association, which O’Malley leads, helped to sweeten the deal as well.
O’Malley’s record may look good as talking points in a Democratic presidential primary, but it’s a dog’s breakfast of expired campaign promises and bad policy.





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