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Regional Opposition to Exelon’s Takeover of Pepco Grows

The release was updated to reflect that Tyson Slocum will appear before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Monday, Feb. 9.

Feb. 5, 2015

Regional Opposition to Exelon’s Takeover of Pepco Grows

At Baltimore Press Conference, Representatives From Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., Call for Regulators to Block Merger

BALTIMORE – Regulators should heed the growing opposition to Exelon’s proposed takeover of Pepco Holdings Inc. and block the merger of the two companies, representatives from Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., organizations said today.

At a press conference outside Exelon’s Baltimore office, consumer and clean energy advocates warned that residents in all three states likely would face higher prices, lower quality of service and new roadblocks to generating local, renewable power if the merger were to go through. Speakers noted that since Exelon took over Baltimore’s local utility in 2012, ratepayers have seen four rate hikes in three years.

The press conference was timed to coincide with the closing days of evidentiary hearings in Maryland and the beginning of evidentiary hearings in Washington, D.C., and Delaware later this month.

“Regional governments say they want to increase the amount of renewable energy they use in the future, but approving this merger would send us in the opposite direction,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, and an intervener who is scheduled to appear before the Maryland Public Service Commission on Monday. “From Annapolis to Dover to D.C., Exelon is one of the leading companies fighting to kill sensible clean energy policies – like federal tax incentives for wind power and state legislation to spur community-based solar projects. We urge Maryland regulators to block the merger and not to go backwards.”

In recent weeks, hundreds of citizens from throughout the region have attended hearings before the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Delaware Public Service Commissions to register their opposition to the merger. More than 750 Maryland and D.C. residents signed a petition opposing the merger, and nearly 200 people have sent comments to the D.C. Public Service Commission urging it to reject the deal. (It is not possible to gather comparable numbers of comments to the Maryland Public Service Commission.)

“In D.C., the vast majority of all rate payers from every corner of the city are united against the merger because we believe that Exelon has a fundamental conflict of interest between its wholesale nuclear business and D.C.’s commitments to affordable, clean and locally produced energy,” said Anya Schoolman, executive director of the Community Power Network. “Exelon has an extensive and disturbing track record of opposing the policies that support rooftop and community solar.”

The D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel and the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel strongly oppose the proposed merger, as do the Maryland Energy Administration and almost all of the state’s leading environmental organizations. The Delaware, Maryland and D.C. Public Service Commissions have not approved the deal. A vote against it by any one of the agencies could block it.

“The merger, if approved, would give Exelon a troublesome amount of control,” said Logan Welde, staff attorney for the Clean Air Council, which has intervened in the Delaware case. “In addition, Exelon must begin to embrace a more positive stance on renewable energy.”

Under the proposed takeover, Exelon, a Chicago-based Fortune 500 company, would gain control over the utility market for Washington, D.C., and the Maryland suburbs, as well as parts of Delaware and New Jersey. Just two years ago, Exelon took over Constellation Energy and its subsidiary Baltimore Gas and Electric. With Exelon’s recent takeovers of utilities in Chicago and Philadelphia, this deal would make Exelon not only the biggest utility in the region, but the biggest utility in America.

An independent report released last month by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Cleveland-based think tank, concluded that the deal would be a bad one for Pepco customers. Exelon relies on uneconomical and uncompetitive nuclear plants to generate power. The cost of those plants could be passed on to Pepco customers if the merger were to go through, the report concluded.