New D.C. hearings on Pepco-Exelon merger begin

WASHINGTON — Regulators in D.C. are considering whether the proposed Pepco-Exelon merger is a good deal.

The $6 billion merger would create one of the nation’s largest energy utilities, marrying the Chicago-based Exelon Corporation with locally-owned Pepco Holdings.

The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia has set aside two days of hearings to take testimony from supporters and opponents of the merger.

Pepco says the plan includes a number of new community benefits that make the deal beneficial to the region. Opponents, like Anya Schoolman, director of Community Power Network, questioned not only the benefits the merger would bring, but how the deal was worked out, citing the timing of a settlement between the District and Pepco and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s announcement of a $25 million contribution from Pepco to offset the cost of a new soccer stadium.

Wednesday’s hearing kicked off with Pepco officials outlining the benefits, including pledges of increased reliability, that it says are part of the application for the merger.

One striking absence at Wedneday’s hearing: the General Services Administration. The GSA was among the critics of the merger with the greatest amount of political clout — it buys energy for the government to keep federal buildings running. The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that the GSA requested to be excused from the hearings—the agency had been a party to the case being heard by the commission.

During Wednesday’s hearing, commission Chair Betty Ann Kane laid out the test of meeting the regulators’ standards for approval, saying: “In any merger commitment, not only must there be judgment as to whether it’s in the public interest, but whether there’s some accountability, traceability, assurance than what’s promised is going to be what actually happens.”

Facts about the proposed merger:

  • The deal that would result in the merger of Pepco-Exelon is worth $6.4 billion
  • After initially being denied as “not in the public interest” in August, Pepco and Exelon boosted local benefits from $14 million to $78 million
  • The newly negotiated deal would include pledges of improved reliability, cost offsets, investments in alternative energy and a shift of at least 100 jobs into D.C.
  • Regulators in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey have already approved the merger.
  • Chicago-based Exelon owns the largest number of nuclear power plants of any utility in the country

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