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D.C. Regulators, Mayor Should Uphold Decision to Deny Exelon’s Takeover of Pepco

Sept. 28, 2015

D.C. Regulators, Mayor Should Uphold Decision to Deny Exelon’s Takeover of Pepco

Public Citizen Files FOIA Request in Exelon Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. – D.C. regulators should deny Exelon’s request to reconsider its bid to acquire Pepco Holdings, Inc., Public Citizen said today. The organization also filed a request (PDF) seeking records about negotiations between D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Exelon.

Last month, the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously to reject Exelon’s takeover of Pepco and issued a nearly 200-page order laying out the case against the deal. Exelon is expected today to file a request for reconsideration of the PSC’s decision.

In its rejection order, the PSC concluded that an inherent conflict of interest exists between Exelon’s business model and D.C. sustainable energy goals. Regulators also found that Exelon did not substantiate the consumer benefits that it claimed would result from the deal; that the deal would not result in increased electricity reliability for customers; and that the acquisition would result in higher rates for customers and offer no additional assistance to low-income ratepayers.

“The PSC’s decision to reject Exelon’s takeover bid is airtight. The PSC should need little more than a few hours to deny Exelon’s reconsideration request,” said Allison Fisher, outreach director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

This determination was more than a year in the making and included both public and evidentiary hearings. The PSC reviewed roughly 1,000 documents in concluding that Exelon’s takeover was not in the public interest. The regulators also noted that the merger proceedings generated more interest and more active participation by the public – which largely oppose the merger – than any other proceeding in the commission’s 100-plus years of operations.

But the public process could be upended if Exelon is allowed to negotiate a deal for the mayor’s support, as sources have told Public Citizen that Exelon is trying to do. The mayor cannot overrule the PSC, but her opinion can carry a great deal of weight. And if the District – which is a party to the case pending before the PSC – reaches a settlement with Exelon, it would be difficult for the PSC to withhold its approval of the deal.

“The D.C. Public Service Commission unanimously rejected Exelon’s bid to take over Pepco in an open and public process,” Fisher said. “Exelon should not be allowed to circumvent this decision through secret, backdoor negotiations. Our request for records is an attempt to ensure this process stays open.”

Public Citizen calls on Bowser to respect the public process and not do anything to undermine the PSC’s decision.

The PSC has 30 days to decide whether to take another vote on the deal. D.C. law requires a response to all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests within 15 business days.

Read Public Citizen’s FOIA request (PDF). And learn more about Exelon’s bid to take over Pepco.