Dressed in Halloween costumes and bearing a giant pumpkin filled with ratepayer complaints, about 100 people picketed the downtown Baltimore headquarters of Constellation Energy Group (CEG) yesterday, to protest a planned $7.9 billion purchase by Exelon Corp. – a merger they said would claim local jobs and cause Baltimore Gas & Electric customers’ rates to increase.
“If the merger happens, it’s going to take jobs away from here,” said Monica Jones, a protester who dressed in a Marilyn Monroe-style white dress and sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” to CEG CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III, the target of much protesters’ ire.
Shattuck and other company higher-ups are eligible to receive more than $36 million in cash severance and equity awards if the merger of Chicago-based energy giant Exelon and Constellation (which owns Baltimore Gas & Electric) goes through. Shattuck himself could come away with a third of that sum – about $12.4 million.
Jones and others attending the protest (organized by Good Jobs Better Baltimore and attended by some of the nearby Occupy Baltimore participants) said allowing CEG to be swallowed by an out-of-town corporation would make BGE even less responsive to ratepayer needs than it has been since deregulation by the Maryland legislature in 1999.
“We need [re]regulation so we can take back control of our bills,” said Jones.
Organizers urged the crowd to attend the hearings the Maryland Public Service Commission has scheduled to review the Constellation-Exelon merger, beginning on Oct. 31. Shattuck and Exelon President and COO Christopher Crane are scheduled to testify on the first day of the hearings. The protesters vowed to be there.
“Is this the last Mayo Shattuck has heard of us?” said Vanessa Johnson, director of Good Jobs Better Baltimore. “No!” the crowd replied.
“Are we going to fight a corporate greed merger and make sure BGE is good to its customers?” “Yes!” they shouted.
-Video and photo by William Hughes.