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Federal Trade Commission Must Intervene to Protect Utility Consumers

Following decision by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to not enforce anti-trust law, Public Citizen calls on FTC to stop private equity giant Blackstone from controlling seats on multiple utilities’ board of directors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether private equity giant Blackstone controlling seats on the boards of directors of multiple U.S. utilities violates antitrust law.

“It appears Section 8 of the Clayton Act prohibits Blackstone from simultaneously controlling seats on the board of directors of FirstEnergy and NiSource,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “Allowing a private equity behemoth like Blackstone to control multiple utilities is anti-competitive and risks harm to consumers.”

In the letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Public Citizen called on the FTC to step in and enforce Section 8 of the Clayton Act, prohibiting directors and officers from serving simultaneously on the boards of competitors, subject to limited exceptions.

Public Citizen’s call for FTC to intervene comes days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected concerns raised by Public Citizen and Citizens Action Coalition about Blackstone’s plan to acquire a stake in an Indiana utility.

In FERC’s decision, the commission found it lacked the authority to enforce the Clayton Antitrust Act, and granted Blackstone the ability to place two directors on the utility’s board of directors, despite the private equity fund’s executives currently holding seats on the boards of multiple energy companies, including FirstEnergy, Cheniere Energy and Cheniere Energy Partners.

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