Southern Maryland News

Calvert Official Urges O'Malley To Back Constellation Energy Group's Merger With a French Energy Giant

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Calvert County official urged Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Friday to continue his support of Constellation Energy Group's merger with a French energy giant and its plans to build a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby.

Board of County Commissioners President Wilson H. Parran (D-Huntingtown) told O'Malley that Maryland is facing an energy shortage and that the third reactor would be a source of much-needed power. Constellation officials have said the reactor would nearly double the plant's capacity. Parran said the project would bring hundreds of jobs to the county, plus tax revenue.

"I just hope we don't miss the opportunity to have a third reactor built in Calvert," Parran said.

His remarks came as O'Malley and his Cabinet held meetings and toured the county with local and state officials during the Capital for a Day events Friday, including visiting the state's archeological laboratory and experimental shoreline erosion controls, both at Jefferson Patterson Park in St. Leonard.

Several state environmental and health agencies have agreed to issue permits to build the third reactor. But Constellation's application, one of several dozen pending nationwide for new reactors, still must gain approval from federal authorities and Maryland's Public Service Commission.

Recently, the commission also decided that it should have a role in approving the $4.5 billion merger with EDF, primarily because of concerns that the French company could have a strong influence over other Constellation Energy branches, such as the Baltimore Gas and Electric company. The merger is seen as crucial to Constellation, which has been struggling financially.

Constellation Energy officials said last week that they are appealing the commission's decision about pre-approval for the merger even as the company moves forward with its application for the panel's approval on a permit to build the reactor.

O'Malley released an online video statement Thursday, explaining his position in the ongoing battle between Constellation and the state. He reiterated that position at the gathering in Calvert on Friday.

It is "our state responsibility" to ensure the merger is "in the public's interest," O'Malley said.

On June 2, Maryland proposed a settlement with Constellation that addresses four primary concerns, including short- and long-term rate relief.

O'Malley said yesterday that Maryland also is concerned about an $87 million compensation package for Constellation's chief executive that is part of the proposed merger with EDF. But he said the state has had no response from Constellation so far on the settlement proposal.

"We never heard from them again," he said, adding that the state is willing to discuss the issues.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company