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Consumer Groups Denounce Energy Giant’s Attempt to “Bribe” Federal Regulators in Controversial Merger

May 11, 2005

Public Citizen * New Jersey Citizen Action * New Jersey Public Interest Research Group

Consumer Groups Denounce Energy Giant’s Attempt to “Bribe” Federal Regulators in Controversial Merger

Exelon and PSEG Offer to Sell More Power Plants in Exchange for Barring Public Participation

Washington, D.C. – Consumer groups today denounced attempts by energy giants Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) to induce federal regulators to inhibit public debate on their controversial merger.   In a slap in the face of the public, Exelon and PSEG—led by former chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Betsy Moler—in a motion filed with FERC Tuesday, proposed selling additional power plant capacity on the condition that the federal agency not schedule a public hearing on the merger, which would create the largest energy company in the United States.

Exelon offered to sell an additional 1,100 megawatts of capacity, provided that FERC agrees to shut out the public on the merger discussions currently under way by the federal energy regulatory agency.  This comes after Moler and other company executives had private meetings with all four FERC commissioners in violation of federal law, which mandates that such meetings be made public.   Consumer and environmental groups demanded that the meeting details be admitted to the public record. Exelon-PSEG has thus far failed to address the request.

“Not only is the offer of selling a few more power plants insufficient, but the proposal smacks of an attempt to circumvent public participation,” said Tyson Slocum, energy research director for Public Citizen.  “As a former chair of FERC, Betsy Moler should know better than to make such an outrageous offer.”

In March, eight consumer and environmental groups in three states protested the pending merger between Illinois-based Exelon and New Jersey-based PSEG, filing an intervention with FERC that urged it not be approved because it will harm consumers by leading to higher electricity prices. Following the intervention, dozens of groups—from state governments to state consumer advocates to Exelon-PSEG competitors to industrial consumers—raised significant concerns about the impacts of the merger.

“The large number of diverse parties protesting the merger requires that FERC schedule a hearing, as Public Citizen requested,” said Slocum.   “Exelon’s attempt to circumvent a public hearing by trying to bribe FERC with an offer to sell a few more power plants is offensive.”