Thursday, June 14, 2007

BGE gets reamed at citizens involved meeting

MONDAY: Revitalizing Burtonsville Town Center - how does the Amish Market fit in?

As threats of golf-ball-sized hail loomed over the stormy skies of East County, emotions ran high Wednesday night as local residents bemoaned rising energy costs at Citizens Involved's monthly meeting, held at Paint Branch High School.

Last month, Baltimore Gas and Electric - which provides energy to 13,000 households in Montgomery County - was allowed to increase rates by fifty percent, and representatives from various energy companies and the Public Service Commission were brought in to discuss the higher costs. Despite the best attempts of Eileen York, founder of the East County civic group, to quell the audience, many could not contain their frustration.

"Why did you allow them to do such a stupid thing?" asked one frustrated resident of Jim Boone, representing the Maryland Public Service Commission, who approved the rate increase. "The [new charge] is for the benefit of the company."

In an attempt to help customers pay their electric bills, BGE is urging them to select a payment plan that would defer the rate increase until January. But residents say the deferral plan is hard to understand and won't save them any money. One resident's accusation that the electric company posted 72% profits last year further sparked the ire of the audience.

Retired engineer Ron Smith brought the meeting to a halt, screaming at Boone until he was red in the face. "I say they profit air - and a 1000% increase charged to BGE!" he bellowed.

Charles Segerman, CEO of Clean Currents, discussed "green" energy sources, such as wind and biofuels, which can be purchased by eco-conscious individuals or companies at fixed rates. Some of Clean Currents' clients include local institution Gifford's Ice Cream and the AFI Silver, whose Silverdocs film festival is completely powered by wind energy.

"We're not in control of our own energy - we're being dictated to," said Segerstrom.

The meeting ran well over time, ending an hour behind schedule. York says that the theme of "Green Energy" will be carried over into next month's meeting, to be held July 11th.


Sparow said...

So what was the point of this meeting? What did they hope to accomplish, anyway?

Dan Reed said...

The theme was "energy." It was going to carry over to July's meeting anyway, but the goal was to talk about the rising energy costs and to discuss ways to lower your energy bill - turning your water heater down , etc. In no way was it meant to be a BGE bash-fest, but things have a way of happening on their own . . .

Sparow said...

I see. Judging from the crowd, I'd say that most of the people there already knew how to have an energy-efficient household, and that those tips were nothing new. Instead, they were a bit more upset that their already as-low-as-you-can-go energy bills would be going up anyhow. Besides, whats a meeting without a good scapegoat? No one would come. :-) I'm a bit surprised that Eileen York didn't foresee heated tempers, given the guests she invited and the current bge rate situation.

Unknown said...

we did think there would be heat...but hoped no one would take it out on the individuals that were there to explain their company's position, for they did not create the policy. most of us do not know about energy, so it was very informative. in fact, it ran over in time 65 mins, and very few left. please come on July 11th, as we will discuss more about green energy, including geothermal, and how we can get discounted rates esp if we look for rates as a group. see you there...