A Maryland Circuit Court this week upheld the state...
A Maryland Circuit Court this week upheld the state Public Service Commission's authority to oversee the relationship between gas and electric utilities and their affiliates. The Maryland Office of People's Counsel applauded the decision, which came from the Wicomico County Circuit Court. "A regulated natural gas or electric company should not have the opportunity to favor its affiliate over other entities. Such relationships interfere with the development of a competitive market," said Sandra Guthorn, deputy people's counsel. A PSC order last year set out standards of conduct for regulated utilities and their core and noncore affiliates.
Among other things, the order restricts the cross-subsidization of costs and the sharing of employees between a utility, its core affiliate engaged in energy services and noncore affiliates. Maryland utilities challenged the PSC decision, arguing that the PSC has no jurisdiction to regulate noncore affiliates, but the court disagreed. "Prohibition of activities by the utility which affects the affiliate is not the same thing as exercising jurisdiction over the noncore service affiliate," the court said.