News from Annapolis
2017 Session:  Week 6                         Delegate Trent Kittleman - District 9A
CONTENTS
  • Clean Energy? Story of the Veto: Part III
  • Protecting the Children
  • Another Electric Bill Increase
  • 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Maryland Gun Ban
  • Goings on in Annapolis
  • Legislative Scholarship Information
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Story of 'Clean Energy' Bill Veto: Part III
Myth # 3: 
"This bill will clean the air and create jobs in Maryland"
What the bill does -- and DOESN'T -- do:

        This bill is intended to encourage energy suppliers to use Maryland renewable energy, and to promote green jobs in Maryland. 
        Unfortunately, what the bill's proponents say it accomplishes and what it actually does are two very different things.  The bill raises the current requirement that 20% of Maryland's energy be "renewable" to 25%. 

      As you can see from the chart above, less than 10% of Maryland's energy production is renewable ( although the chart is from 2012, the percent of renewable energy produced in Maryland has not yet risen to 10%).  
      Thus, Maryland's energy suppliers can't buy enough renewable energy in Maryland to meet the required 20% current goal, much less a 25% goal.  Consequently, power suppliers have no choice but to sell us energy from non-renewable sources to meet Maryland's energy needs; they cannot sell us what does not exist. 
       So how does the bill address this problem?
       It requires power suppliers to buy "RECS" (renewable energy credits) from power suppliers who produce renewable energy -- mostly, from other states. The cost of these RECs has increased from $2 million in 2008 to $126 million in 2015, and is expected to grow to $200 million by 2020 to comply with this legislation.  
        It goes without saying that the cost of these RECs is passed along to Maryland ratepayers.  This is clearly an unfair tax on ratepayers for not using wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources that are unavailable in the amounts required by the bill.
        It seems ridiculous to pay a tax that does little to encourage the production of renewable energy in Maryland; but it is unthinkable to send the tax revenue to another state where it is actually used to create green jobs and produce renewable energy.   And that is exactly what this bill does; it does for other states what it was supposed to do for Maryland -- only we pay the bill.
    Maryland Public Service Commission's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Report;
Delegate Herb McMillan, House floor speech, February, 2017
Look for "Clean Energy Bill Veto:  Part IV, the Final Part -- Hurting Marylanders," next week.
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Protecting the Children
Judiciary Committee deals with tough issues

       This past week, my committee heard two bills that are indicative of the intensity and importance of the issues we deal with on a regular basis.  

Parent Deployment.          The first of these is HB 636 that deals with what has become an increasing problem for single parents when they are deployed.  In today's world, where members of the Reserve are called up to serve their country, a parent who is single for one reason or another must make arrangements for the care of his/her child for a significant period of time.
        For parents who are separated or divorced, this situation has become a way for one parent to attempt to deprive the deploying parent of custody or even access to their child.  
       This bill establishes special provisions for custody and visitation proceedings involving a parent subject to military deployment, and prohibits a court from using a parent's past deployment or possible future deployment as the sole factor in determining the best interest of the child.
       Our committee voted favorably on this bill.

Reproduction of  Photos in Child Pornography Trial.  The Committee also voted unanimously to approve HB 737 which provides that: "during the discovery process, the state may not reproduce the obscene material or any visual representation or performance that depicts a minor engaged as a subject in sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct."   The bill makes alternate provisions for appropriate discovery methods.
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And your bill goes higher  . . .
     
        This past week, the House voted to approve HB 514.  The bill extends the surcharge for the EmPower Maryland program another six years, until 2023.
       The EmPower Maryland program requires electric companies to "provide certain energy efficiency and conservation programs and services to its electricity customers."  The surcharge is is to pay for the effort.  It is unclear to me how the ratepayer benefits by paying an added surcharge that increased 184% from 2012 to 2016.  
        Nonetheless, the program has had some sucess, and approving its continuation could have been done so reasonably.  Delegate Kathy Szeliga offered an amendment that would have capped any annual increase in the surcharge to 2%.   The amendment was defeated -- along party lines.  
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        After spending so much time researching and writing about the cost of electricity, I sat down this week and studied my BGE bill.  Over the years, I have conscientiously compared electricity "rates," and changed providers to minimize cost.  Yet my bills keep going up!  Here are some interesting facts I discovered (with great effort) that explain why.

1.   Over the last four years, my COST FOR ELECTRICITY (the "rate" we can compare among providers), has risen and declined; today, it is identical to what it was (for me) in 2012.   Dominion Energy charged me .090 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2012;   Constellation charges me .090 kWh now.

2.   The COST FOR ELECTRICITY, however, is only one part of the overall bill and is becoming a smaller and smaller part of the package.   The actual cost for my energy was 70% of my bill in 2012 -- today it is only  64%.  The other charges are for  distribution, taxes, fees, and special purpose surcharges. 

3.     DISTRIBUTION is the primary reason for the increase.   My bill shows a 32% INCREASE in the cost of distribution.  

4.     SPECIAL PURPOSE SURCHARGES (such as the one for EmPower Maryland) are the secondary reason that our electric bills continue to rise.  There are currently seven surcharges or fees that make up somewhere around 12% of your total bill.  This is an approximation because at least one of these fees changes its rate monthly.  In case you wonder what you're paying for, here is a list of the fees and their purposes
  • Customer Charge. This $7.50 fee does not vary; it pays for your billing, metering and meter reading.
  • EmPowerMd.  (See description above)
  • RSP Chg/Misc Cr.  This charge is related to the "Rate Stabilization Plan" that was put in place in 2006 in order to ameliorate the effect of a huge jump in electricity rates pursuant to deregulation.  The RSP Chg/Misc Cr. spread out the increase over a 10-year period starting in 2007, with the greater portion of the charges to be borne in the later years (i.e., today). Thus the rate for this charge has varied, increasing over the years.  Fortunately, it should end this year -- barring any unforseen extensions.
  • ERI Initiative Charge.  The "Electric Reliability Initiative" is most recently added surcharge.  The funds go to help BGE pay for measures to improve the reliability of the electricity delivery system and more grid efficiency. It is unclear whether there is a cap on the rate for this surcharge, or an end date. I found neither.
  • MD Universal Svc Prog.  This is a flat fee of $.36 a month that goes help limited-income customers pay the electric portion of their bills, and targeted weatherization services
  • Envir Srchg.  This is an environmental surcharge used to fund the Power Plant Research Program. The per kWh rate has remained steady over the years.
  • `Dmd Res Chg.  This Demand Resource Surcharge was applied from June 2011 through May 2016, with a two year extension that does not yet seem to have been applied.  It is a small fee to help reduce energy demand in peak hours.
        While none of these fees looks very big all by itself, the shear number of "little" fees aggregates into "real money."  Next week, the last segment of "Clean Energy? Story of the Veto" will focus on the cost to consumers - another "small" fee that will continue to add to the overall financial burden of government
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U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Rules on Maryland's Ban on Assault Rifles
        One year ago, a three-member panel of the Fourth Circuit ruled that the provision in the 2013 Maryland Gun Law banning semi-automatic rifles was unconstitutional.   In May of last year, the full 14-member court re-heard the appeal.  This past Tuesday, the Court issued its 9 to 5, 116-page ruling, reinstating the District Court's August 2014 opinion that the ban passed constitutional muster.
        The case will be appealed to the Supreme Court.  We will anxiously wait to see if the Court agrees to hear the appeal.
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Goings on in Annapolis
Republican Woman's Caucus

       The 11 Republican women in the House of Delegates are a formidable force! We may look sweet, but behind those smiles are 11 keen minds constantly watching out for our constituents and challenging anything that threatens to deprive us of our freedoms 
District 9 Night
     
        Thank all of you who came to our District Night this past Monday.  I missed a great deal of the evening due to an emergency with my 14-year-old "kitten;" she's okay, so far. 
        It was so great that the Governor stopped by.  I hear that a number of you had a chance to talk with him.  I look forward to seeing everyone next year.
Welcome the Arc of Howard County

        Thursday was Developmental Disabilities Day.  It was a joy to be visited by my friends from the Arc of Howard County, including Executive Director, Cindy Parr.  This is one of my favorite organizations.  
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Scholarship Information
District 9A residents attending a college, university, trade school or equivalent in the State of Maryland are eligible for the Delegate Scholarship.

Current high school seniors and full-time (12+ credits per semester) or part-time (6-11 credits per semester), degree-seeking under-graduate students, graduate students, and students attending a private career school may apply. 
  
Click here for the application. For questions regarding the application process, please call my Annapolis office and ask to speak with Chelsea Leigh Murphy at 410-841-3556.  

Please be sure to have your completed application postmarked by April 10, 2017.
Delegate Trent Kittleman
District 9A, Western Howard County and Southern Carroll County (Sykesville)
Room 202, Lowe House Office Building
6 Bladen Street,   Annapolis, MD 21401
410-841-3556  *   Trent.Kittleman@House.State.MD.US
Interim Office
3000 Kittleman Lane,  West Friendship, MD 21794
301-661-3344  *   trentkittleman@verizon.net
Administrative AideChelsea Leigh Murphy