Nov. 20, 2015
Public Citizen Petitions to Intervene in Exelon-Pepco Takeover
Consumers Need a Voice in Case Before D.C. Public Service Commission
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Because consumers are no longer adequately represented in the latest Exelon-Pepco takeover case pending before the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC), Public Citizen has petitioned (PDF) the agency to intervene in the proceedings.
The PSC rejected the proposed merger in August, but a backroom deal between Mayor Muriel Bowser and Exelon has put an amended merger proposal back on the agency’s plate. At the utilities’ request, the PSC has agreed to consider whether to approve the settlement on a fast track.
In a petition filed late Thursday, Public Citizen noted that consumers are no longer represented before the PSC because the Office of People’s Counsel is no longer advocating for them adequately. The Office of People’s Counsel opposed the merger for more than a year, criticizing it sharply. After the mayor cut a deal with Exelon, the head of the People’s Counsel, who is not independent from the mayor and was up for reappointment, abandoned some of her prior positions and began supporting the deal.
Additionally, there are many key differences between the proposed settlement and the original application, and the fast tracked agenda does not give the PSC enough time to deliberate, or the public to review, what the PSC itself has recognized as one of the most significant decisions that it will ever make, Public Citizen said.
Public Citizen also noted that the PSC waived its rules by permitting the new settlement to be presented after a final order was issued and reopening the record rather than requiring the utilities to file a new application. The commission’s hasty schedule for considering the settlement makes it exceedingly unlikely that the public can scrutinize the deal and fully weigh in, and it disregards the D.C. Code’s requirement that the public receive at least 45 days’ notice before public hearings.
“The PSC is bending the rules for the settling parties while turning a blind eye to the concerns of D.C. consumers, who currently have inadequate representation in the proceedings,” said David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. “The commission’s main task in this case is to decide what’s in the public interest. At the very least, the commission should allow public interest representatives a seat at the table.”