D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D)announced a settlement recently with energy giant Exelon that will allow city residents more benefits under a proposed merger with Pepco, the city’s utility provider.
Bowser said on Oct. 6 that her administration and Chicago-based Exelon have come to agreement that will put her on record as supporting a $6.8 billion merger with Pepco, a leading utility company in the Mid-Atlantic states. Bowser supported an Aug. 25 D.C. Public Service Commission vote to reject the merger mainly because the Exelon proposal was not, in her eyes, sensitive to the energy and financial needs of District ratepayers.
The mayor is fully on board with the merger now.
“The District deserves a utility company that is affordable and reliable,” she said. “When the public service commission rejected the merger, the District kept the conversation alive.”
Bowser said that the settlement will put $78 million into the city with an emphasis on sustainability, reliability and pathways to the middle class, meaning that good paying jobs will be the result of the deal. She said that Exelon will invest $17 million for the city’s wind and solar power programs, pointing out that the company committed to using 100 megawatts from the city’s wind program.
She said that Exelon has agreed to create a $25 million fund to offset utility increases.
“Because of this, there will be no rate increases until March 2019,” Bowser said.
The mayor said that the settlement gives a one-time $50 credit to consumers and adds programs that will help low-income residents, particularly seniors, with paying their utility bills and installing energy-efficient systems in their homes.
Bowser also said that District residents would also get new jobs as a result of the settlement.
“This is a net positive for our economy,” she said. “Exelon will move 100 jobs to the city and it will have 102 union employee jobs within two years. This settlement is in the best interest of the District of Columbia now and for the future.”
Exelon has indicated that it has submitted its application for review before the public service commission in light of the settlement. If the commission approves, the merger will be a reality with states such as Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware approving the deal along with the Federal Energy Commission.
Sandra Mattavous-Frye, the people’s counsel, supports the city’s settlement.
“I want to make sure that the consumers get tangible, lasting benefits,” she said. “This deal will be a benefit for everyday consumers.”
However, not everyone is happy with the agreement.
“I am disappointed,” D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) said. “What we have here are short-term contributions that will be a long-term loss. Exelon can dress up this deal anyway it wants but at the end of the day, it is the ratepayers who will pay.”
Cheh said that Exelon executives and Pepco shareholders will win ultimately because any paid out benefits will be made up later by the company in the form of rate increases. Nevertheless, Chris Crane, the president and CEO of Exelon said that his company takes seriously “serving the nation’s capital.”
“This settlement will be a benefit for the consumer,” Crane said. “It will provide jobs and charitable contributions at a minimum of $19 million. We will have a job training program that will train residents of underserved communities work in this industry.”