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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a sign of growing opposition to Exelon’s proposed takeover of Pepco, Marylanders from across the state registered their opposition (PDF) to a proposed settlement on the final day for public comment on it.
Chicago-based Exelon has claimed erroneously that the settlement – reached with Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, the National Consumer Law Center, the National Housing Trust, the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition, the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts – resolves all contested issues in the merger proceeding before the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC). In fact, Exelon’s new deal, like its initial proposal, is still inconsistent with the public interest and poses risks to ratepayers, Public Citizen maintains.
Public Citizen, along with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, DC Sun, Maryland PIRG, Nuclear Information and Resource Service and the Sierra Club, on Friday mailed more than 1,500 written comments opposing the settlement to the PSC on behalf of their members. The number of comments delivered matches the number filed in February to reject Exelon’s initial proposal, bringing the total number of comments to more than 3,000.
The proposed settlement includes proposals for microgrid development, new energy efficiency programs, increased solar power generation and recreational trails along some of Pepco’s transmission lines. While these new conditions give the appearance of benefits, they do nothing to mitigate the long-term risks associated with the takeover or address the fundamental issues presented by Exelon’s dominance in the region, Public Citizen says.
In fact, Exelon plans to pay for many of the improvements through significant rate increases, according to testimony filed by the Maryland Energy Administration. Moreover, many of the new conditions attached to the merger represent actions that already are required by law or could be required by the Maryland PSC absent the merger.
“Exelon’s latest suite of hollow promises in its attempt to win approval for acquiring Pepco has not moved those who oppose the deal,” said Allison Fisher, outreach director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “In fact, it’s only strengthened our resolve.”
As the hearings on the proposed settlement conclude today, residents from across the state are joining with the Maryland attorney general, the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, the Montgomery County Council and 41 environmental, public interest and other groups to contest Exelon’s claims and reaffirm their call to reject it.
Opposition to the proposed takeover (PDF) also includes more than 1,000 District residents, three D.C. Councilmembers, the D.C. Office of People’s Counsel and 19 District advisory neighborhood commissions.
“The bottom line is that Exelon’s business model – which seeks to increase profits and offset the heavy losses being incurred by its unregulated nuclear generation – is in conflict with the best interest of Pepco customers and is misaligned with Maryland’s clean energy goals,” Fisher said. “No conditions can resolve that conflict, which means that to protect consumers, the Maryland Public Service Commission must reject Exelon’s takeover of Pepco.”
Regulators are scheduled to make a decision on the proposed merger by May 8. The Public Service Commission in Washington, D.C., also is holding evidentiary hearings that are scheduled to conclude this month. Approvals from both commissions are needed for the acquisition to move forward.
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