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Petition Filed with DC Court of Appeals to Block Ongoing Implementation of Pepco-Exelon Merger.

Editor’s Note: In our editorial last month headlined “Pepco-Exelon Merger Visited Once Again,” we reported that Public Citizen had announced it would definitely challenge the PSC’s merger approval in the DC Court of Appeals. Following is the statement confirming and explaining their appeal filed on August 16th.

Public Citizen and D.C. Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) today are filing a court challenge to the D.C. Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to approve Exelon’s takeover of Pepco. The groups believe the merger is not in the public interest, and the petition (PDF) being filed today is the first step in asking the D.C. Court of Appeals, the district’s highest court, to block the merger.

The $7 billion merger will lead to higher electricity rates and stymie the District’s efforts to shift to renewable energy, the groups maintain. The PSC on June 17 rejected requests by Public Citizen and other groups to reconsider its decision to allow the merger. Since then, Pepco has asked for an $85.5 million rate increase.

The groups contend that the commission gave too little notice of hearings (12 days instead of the required 45 days); changed its mind about the merger without adequately explaining why (the PSC voted against it, then later reversed itself); and failed to support its finding that the merger is in the public interest.

“We predicted that the merger would be bad for ratepayers, and indeed, while the ink is barely even dry on the deal, Pepco is pushing for a record-breaking rate increase,” said David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. “In addition to paying more for electricity, D.C. residents will be subsidizing a company that will fight D.C.’s laudable efforts to switch to renewables and mitigate climate change.”

Public Citizen has fought the merger since it was first proposed. The group intervened in the proceedings before the Maryland Public Service Commission (which also reviewed the merger), and its experts testified before multiple D.C. Public Service Commission hearings about the harm that would result from the merger. Public Citizen and PowerDC, a diverse coalition of merger opponents, also mobilized District of Columbia activists who called and emailed commissioners, and spoke at hearings, demanding the commission block the merger.

“The Public Service Commission’s June 17 decision was just another example of its broken process,” said Anya Schoolman, executive director of DC SUN, a nonprofit organization that aims to expand access to solar power and strengthen D.C.’s solar policies. “Its actions set a terrible precedent that the commission can bend its rules in favor of large corporations at the expense of the public interest. That is why it is so important this fight continues. District residents want and deserve better.”

© 2016 Public Citizen