Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates on Friday said his office dismissed the charges against three women who were arrested in June while protesting the installation of external gas regulators by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. contractors in Federal Hill.
In a statement, Bates said the charges against the three would have been dropped after they completed five hours of community service through Baltimore’s citation docket program.
“Having spent approximately 19 hours in central booking, following their arrests for interfering with BGE’s work and creating a disturbance in a public place, these individuals have sustained consequences we believe are sufficient and allow us to move forward with dismissal,” he said in a statement.
The three residents — Claudia Towles from Fells Point, Maggie Fitzsimmons from Washington Hill and Sandra Seward from Federal Hill — were detained in late June after they physically blocked BGE contractors from completing their work on Warren Avenue. They were charged with interfering with a public utility, trespassing, and failing to disperse from a public place.
Residents have complained about the devices and faced off with the utility company for months, including in court.
BGE says the devices are safer than internal gas regulators and a necessary upgrade, and plans to replace more than 11,200 indoor gas regulators with external ones by the end of 2031. Residents say they’re a way for BGE to pad its revenue and that their older neighborhoods are not fit for external regulators because of narrow sidewalks.
The residents have also raised concerns over what could happen if a vehicle or electric scooter were to crash into one of the external regulators.
The controversy over the regulators has even reached City Hall. Members of the council’s Health, Environment, and Technology Committee pressed BGE officials on the issue in mid-July. City Councilman Eric Costello, who represents some of the neighborhoods where BGE is seeking to install the regulators, said he was introducing legislation later this month to ban them.
More than 120 people have joined a class-action lawsuit against BGE, seeking to block the installation of the regulators, and hundreds more have agreed to be represented by the attorney leading the fight, Thiru Vignarajah.