"Competition a 'Myth' as Prices Spiral Upward"
Front page of the Washington Post today folks (here in DC blogging from the heart of Darkness), so on to the good stuff...
Maryland and District consumers angry at the record electric bills they will receive this summer might want to recall the promises made by proponents of deregulation seven years ago. If they do, they'll be even angrier.
At the time, in 1999, evangelists for deregulation described a competitive, efficient and lower-priced system of energy delivery that, for the most part, remains a fantasy in the Mid-Atlantic region and other parts of the country today, according to industry experts.
Beware 'Evangelists' of any flavor boys & girls
The District, Maryland and Virginia, along with much of the nation, are wrestling with the ramifications of deregulation at the same time that the cost of producing electricity is skyrocketing. But as energy prices have soared, electricity rates have gone up more in deregulated states than in regulated ones.
And remember "If a deal sounds to good to be true... " well, you know the rest.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers in Maryland have had artificially low rates for six years because of caps set in the 1999 deal that allowed deregulation to go through, so the sudden 72 percent increase announced last week is a rude awakening.
"With something of that magnitude, I thought, God, it can't be," said Don Dunn, a 77-year-old retired businessman in Howard County on a fixed income. "My gut reaction was, gee, the whole thing is an error."
Dunn, who spent about $700 on electricity last year, is wondering how he can afford more even as property taxes are rising. While he is worrying that he might have to give up the two-story brick home in Ellicott City where he has lived for more than 40 years, deregulation has turned out well for BGE's parent company.
Sorry, Mr. Dunn: no one rides for free. You have our sympathies.
Residential customers -- especially those in Maryland facing an average $743 yearly increase in their BGE bills -- are left wondering what deregulation was for, if not to reduce prices.
Oh come on! It was for profit! You knew it, but you thought you were gonna get an even better deal and that just never happens. Never ever. You wanted all the good stuff, but didn't listen and now it is time to pay the pipper. Literally.
In Annapolis, the outcry from voters has sent lawmakers into a frenzy to respond to the rate increase.
Sen. Leo E. Green (D-Prince George's), a longtime opponent of electric deregulation, blamed its failure on false promises from energy companies in the 1990s.
And he wants to blame voters and legislators, but folks don't like when elected officials tell them they were wrong. But they were wrong.
Deregulation has not worked as envisioned in any of the 20 states that have undertaken it, said Kenneth Rose, an Ohio energy consultant who advises state utility regulators.
"Those of us who were in favor of the competition that deregulation promised, and I was one of them, haven't had our hopes realized," he said. "Not at all. It was Enron in California where I first thought something is not working here."
Because apparently there is more than one sucker born every minute and 2 are more than enough to take them. And your concern about California? Falls on deaf ears: you did nothing for us so prepare to reap the whirlwind.
For state governments that bought into deregulation, the remorse has been acute.
"I think everyone is just looking at Maryland and getting sick to their stomach," said Elizabeth A. Noel, the D.C. people's counsel. "This is not what was supposed to happen. . . . Nobody intended this."
Oh please. You got taken by some con men... what are you prepared to do now?
Among the promises of deregulation was competition -- homeowners and businesses would be able to pick their own energy providers, creating price competition with local power companies. In Maryland, that has not happened. Part of the blame, experts say, lies in the way Maryland deregulated. The 1999 rate caps, which are coming off this summer, imposed a falsely low rate that no BGE competitor could match, preventing competition.
"We were sold a myth called competition," said Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Baltimore County). "We will find Jimmy Hoffa in Maryland before we find competition."
Yeah, and only tourists are dumb enough to play 3 card monty in NYC.
Again: it was a rigged game, the power companies knew what they were doing so what are you prepared to do? And watching the Road to the Final Four doesn't count.
Good luck citizens, you are apparently out there all on your own.