Md. gubernatorial hopeful Mizeur wants to reduce electricity outages, keep rates low


Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) announces her running mate, Delman Coates, in November. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) is tired of seeing electric bills continue to grow while customers endure outages that are often the result of investor-owned utility companies not having made enough infrastructure investments.

Mizeur’s campaign released a plan on Tuesday to increase oversight of utility companies, up state standards and incentivize competition.

“For too long, Marylanders have experienced electric power outages that have been extremely disruptive to community activities because of their frequency, extent, and duration,” the plan states. “All while paying higher rates. We can do better.”

Mizeur wants to strengthen Maryland’s Public Service Commission, which supervises and regulates electric utilities, by adding members who will advocate for consumers. Her administration would also introduce legislation to “rein in some of the worst abuses by industry, including the state’s granting of indefinite, perpetual franchises to several power utilities.”

Mizeur wants power companies to renegotiate their license every 10 to 15 years, a process that would provide an added layer of accountability.

Mizeur also wants to remove some of the hurdles that make it difficult to establish electric cooperatives or municipally owned electric systems. Currently, there are only four co-ops and five municipally owned systems, according to the plan, both of which offer electricity at rates that are 15 percent lower than investor-owned companies.

“Power companies must invest in the significant upgrades and maintenance of their infrastructure necessary to dramatically improve safety and reliability of service, or face competition from an entity that will,” the plan states.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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