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Watchdogs Concerned On Proposed Utility Merger

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Utility watchdogs will be voicing concerns at a public meeting in Baltimore this week, Thursday September 17, about the proposed merger between France's nuclear utility E-D-F and Constellation Energy.

This is a story about the baggage of a bad relationship between Constellation Energy and customers of Baltimore Gas and Electric, which Constellation owns. "There's no doubt that Marylanders have been burned. And then the question is, should they make amends with Constellation, or send them packing," said Johanna Newman with the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

She said BGE customers blame Constellation for utility rates that soared after the state deregulated the energy industry a decade ago. Some customers fear rates will jump again, if Constellation"s nuclear division partners up with French utility EDF. The reason- the billions of dollars it would take for the companies to build a third reactor at Constellation"s Calvert Cliffs Maryland plant.

Company spokesman Rob Gould says the upsides of the merger are thousands of jobs and billions in private investment: "There's a lot on the line here, obviously, I'm wearing a pin that says Maryland's clean energy future is on the line and we really believe that. This is a good transaction for the state of Maryland."

The Maryland Public Service Commission will decide if that's the case when it issues a recommendation on the merger next month.

The Maryland Public Service Commission hearing is this Thursday at 7 p.m. in Baltimore at the War Memorial Building. A final hearing is schedule for September 29th at the Town Hall in Bel Air.

Cathy Duchamp reports...

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