Come July, Marylanders will face a 72 percent (at least) increase in their electric bills. This is because the state legislature’s ill-advised 1990s price cap is expiring and power behemoth Baltimore Gas and Electric – Constellation Energy (now simply known as BGE) will charge market rates. This may all be fair from a business standpoint, but it means that many Marylanders will take a huge hit to simply have light in their home – and that many who slip through the cracks of assistance programs (which would include moi) will not be able to afford electricity at all. (We’re already trying to figure out how to stockpile batteries and practice the safe use of candles.) This is a dangerous situation to create: Putting profit before public safety, before human lives, is worse than bad business – it’s inhumane. Make no mistake, it will lead to suffering, illness, house fires and deaths. Each winter, poor people who can’t afford current rates do without light and heat; I’ve done without heat for the past three winters in an effort to keep my BGE bill down – and we’ve suffered for it (we’ve had our lights cut off twice this past year too), but we didn’t bear the worst of it. No, that sad distinctioon goes to even poorer and unluckier people who wind up in news stories each year that tell the tales of those who have died while trying to make do after having their electricity shut off.
What happened to companies serving a public that is supposed, in economic theory, to drive price through a combination of supply, demand and competition? Competition in this area is exceedingly limited. Demand is, of course, 100 percent. Supply? Depends upong whom one asks. But a frightened and angry public is looking for some sort of recourse against an entity we all know is about producing the highest profit possible, one that doesn’t care who is hurt or in the dark so long as BGE pockets are overflowing with filthy lucre (aka blood money).
An idea comes from the Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hike. If you live in the area and care about this issue, please read and attend:
Important Rally and Meeting!
When: Tues., May 30, 2006 (the day after the Memorial Day holiday)
Where: At the Pratt Library Downtown in the Auditorium
Time: 6 PM to 8 PM
Join us in getting from point A to point B
Join your neighbors, friends and co-workers in saying NO to the BGE profits-before-people plan. BGE and many politicians are purposefully misleading the public by 1) limiting the options to ones that keep BGE making a profit off of our basic need for electricity to live; and 2) suggesting that these raises are the last ones – knowing that nothing stops them from making other increases – and BGE itself admits that it doesn’t know the price of electricity that it will purchase to distribute.
Their plans will lead to impossible choices, misery, shutoffs, fires, and deaths as people struggle to pay rent, mortgages, prescriptions, gasoline and food.
Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hike
426 East 31st Street Baltimore, MD 21218
Another opportunity: Join the Maryland Coalition and the AFL-CIO for an anti-BGE rally. It will be held the very same day, Tues., May 30, at 1 PM at the courthouse at Calvert & Lexington Streets. Meet and pick up signs and flyers at 12 Noon.
For more info, contact info is provided above and you can always stop by the All Peoples Congress’ Waverly office, 426 E.31st St. (Greenmount Avenue and 31st).