"A huge loss" for the public interest, ratepayers, and environment: Exelon Nuclear takeover of Pepco poised for approval
As reported by Crain's Chicago Business, the Washington Post, and Bloomberg, Exelon Nuclear is now poised to take over Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco. Exelon won the war, despite a determined public interest, ratepayer, and environmental group coalition winning all the battles against the controversial merger over the course of the past two years.
As explained in the DC PSC press release, "the Commission ruled by a vote of 2 to 1 that if all settling parties accept the proposed conditions within 14 days from the date of the Order, the Revised NSA [Nonunanimous Full Settlement Agreement and Stipulation] and the Exelon/Pepco Merger will be approved as in the public interest without further Commission action."
PSC Commissioners Joanne Doddy Fort and Willie L. Phillips voted in favor of the merger; PSC Chairman Betty Ann Kane dissented, holding -- as she has since August 2015 -- that the merger is not in the public interest.
Opposing the merger, PSC member Betty Ann Kane said there was no evidence Pepco couldn't keep running without the purchase from Chicago-based Exelon. A merger, Kane said, would leave the PSC "forever playing whack-a-mole" to enforce the terms of the deal on Exelon.
As quoted in the Blooomberg article:
"This is a huge loss for consumers, a discouraging setback for the institutions to protect them and a sad commentary on how things are done in the District," said Allison Fisher, public outreach director for Public Citizen.
As summarized by PowerDC:
THE PSC REJECTED EXELON'S PROPOSAL, BUT LEFT THE DOOR WIDE OPEN FOR THE MERGER TO GO THROUGH. CHAIR KANE, IN MINORITY ON DECISION TO OFFER NEW TERMS, STRESSED THAT MERGER IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED AND NOT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.
PowerDC has issued the following action alert:
Today the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) proposed a settlement offer to Mayor Bowser and the Office of People’s Council (OPC) that removes rate protections for D.C. residents. If the mayor and OPC accept this bad deal it means Exelon will take over Pepco and your monthly electric bill will increase.
Per the PSC’s decision, the settling parties have 14 days to either accept or reject the agreement. This is our last chance to stop Exelon.
The initial settlement included $25 million dollars meant to protect residential customers from expected rate increases. This protection is not included in the PSC’s alternative settlement. The PSC’s terms would allow the money to be allocated in the next rate increase. This means that money could end up anywhere.
In Baltimore, BG&E has raised its rates four times since its takeover by Exelon. We can’t let that happen here.
The PowerDC Coalition
For the past many long months, Beyond Nuclear has joined with public interest, environmental, and ratepayer allies in the PowerDC coalition to resist Exelon's takeover of Pepco at every twist and turn. This included the submission by Beyond Nuclear of extensive comments to the D.C. Public Service Commission, detailing the abuse Exelon has heaped on its own neighbors and workers (especially whistle-blowers) in Illinois, with a warning to not welcome such a rogue corporation to town. Given the permissive approval poised to take place, it is clear Beyond Nuclear's warnings fell on deaf ears, in terms of the 2-1 majority vote at the D.C. PSC.
The approval deal comes despite a warning by financial analysts that the Exelon-Pepco merger is value destructive, and underlying weakness threatens total returns.
Hold the presses! As reported by PowerDC, as well as NIRS and CCAN, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, as well as D.C.'s Attorney General, Karl Racine, and the Office of People's Counsel, Sandra Mattavous-Frye, Esq., have all rejected the PSC's conditions for the Exelon takeover of Pepco to proceed. As reported by the Washington Post, this could well doom the corrupt deal. (Note that an earlier version of the Washington Post article stated, appropriately, that "The debate over the merger centered on the role of renewable energy sources like wind and solar against legacy technologies, such as nuclear power and natural gas. Many environmental groups opposed the deal because they believed it would hinder the migration toward renewable energies." (emphasis added) But, Orwellian "down the memory hold" style, the current version of the article has edited out this entirely appropriate language!) But eternal vigilance and redoubling of efforts is more called for than ever: PowerDC will hold a press conference at the JW Marriott near the mayor's office at the Wilson Building in downtown D.C. on Wed., March 2nd at noon, calling for an end to this bad deal, once and for all. You can take action too, by writing D.C. decision makers.