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Background of the conduit deal
In February 2023, BGE and Baltimore City announced an agreement where BGE would pay $120 million over 4 years to finance upgrades to the city’s aging underground conduit infrastructure. In exchange, BGE was granted long-term access to the conduits to install fiber optic cables and expand its smart grid. Critics argued it lacked transparency and could impact customers’ utility bills.
What the internal memo reveals
The memo describes the deal as an “innovative partnership” that will modernize the conduit system while expanding high-speed internet access. It acknowledges that the financing will be included in BGE’s upcoming rate case request to the Public Service Commission to recover customer costs. This prompted further objections from consumer advocates.
Scrutiny of the conduit deal intensifies.
The release of the internal memo has intensified scrutiny of the agreement between BGE and Baltimore City.
Calls for more transparency
The Office of People’s Counsel, representing customers before the PSC, argued the memo validates concerns about lack of transparency in the deal-making process. They are urging the PSC to examine the request to pass conduit costs to ratepayers closely.
Potential impact on utility bills
BGE insists the financing will have minimal impact, but critics note even small rate increases could burden vulnerable customers, especially during high inflation. When deciding on cost recovery, the PSC will weigh the projected costs against benefits like modernized infrastructure.