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Best Week, Worst Week: Port of Baltimore inks more business; MPSC loses court fight

As the Port of Baltimore celebrates a shiny new contract extension with Royal Caribbean International, the Maryland Public Service Commission is licking its wounds after a loss in the Supreme Court.

Business writer Anamika Roy reported Thursday that the Port of Baltimore announced it had signed a new contract with Royal Caribbean International that will extend the cruise line’s year-round departures through June 2020.

The agreement bolsters what has become an increasingly important part of the Baltimore port’s operations, giving vacation-seekers more options to sail from the mid-Atlantic region. Maryland officials also lauded the extension, saying it will provides a significant boost to Maryland’s economy for years to come.

The port ranks sixth on the East Coast, 11th in the U.S. and 20th in the world for cruise passengers, having serviced nearly 200,000 passengers who sailed on 90 cruises from Baltimore last year. Since beginning a year-round cruise schedule in 2009, port officials boast about the fact that nearly every cruise that has sailed from Baltimore has left at full passenger capacity.

Meanwhile, legal affairs writer Steve Lash reported Tuesday that the high court unanimously ruled Maryland’s effort to foster an in-state supply of power in the crowded mid-Atlantic electrical grid encroached on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s exclusive authority to set interstate wholesale rates on power distribution.

The justices, in affirming lower court decisions, held that the Federal Power Act gives FERC wholesale-pricing authority to ensure “just and reasonable” prices nationwide without interference from individual states regardless of their noble intentions.

Commission officials were disappointed in the court’s decision but were pleased that it reaffirms the right of states to procure new energy generation.