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Pepco & Exelon Together Make Us Fear No Relief from the Heat

Here we are today, June 12th, in the midst of a heat wave and sweating over whether the District’s Public Services Commission (PSC) will give the go-ahead to Pepco merging with Chicago-based energy giant Exelon. We ratepayers had better keep our fingers crossed and hope beyond hope that the merger will be denied.

Unfortunately, we are not very optimistic, especially now that the Maryland PSC just a few weeks ago went along with a merger deal there.

Of course, Pepco has been touting the great benefits of this merger, especially increased service reliability and promoting energy efficiency. Same pitch was made by Exelon in a press release last month which touted their commitment to “advance[ing] clean energy as part of a long-term commitment to improve service and modernize their grid.”

They also claimed that by Maryland’s PSC having approved the merger “significant economic benefits” will accrue to their customers in Maryland; they are claiming the same wonderful thing for us here in DC. But don’t you believe it. For starters, all one has to do is contemplate what the Washington Post wrote in report on the Maryland PSC’s approval:

“Exelon has pledged to hold off on job cuts ‘at the utility level for two years after the merger.’ But, [their spokesperson] said, ‘there hasn’t been any determination’ about whether a similar pledge will apply to rate increases.” (Italics ours.)

We have no reason to believe that what they had to say following Maryland’s action will be pretty much what they will say once they get to give us the shaft here in DC. Already we have good reason to be suspicious of their claims that we will all be better off.

Because everyone is in the same boat when it comes to paying our monthly electric bills, the rates we will be burdened with –- already high as they are – are what will be most telling. And Pepco knows this and is hoping that they can fool us into believing they care about how the prospect of even higher rates has customers on edge.

How are they going about trying to make us believe they are the good guys? Well, a few weeks ago we received a mailing at home from Pepco telling how wonderful everything will be once they get absorbed into Exelon. Part of their pitch was that we will all get a special, one-time credit of $50 — a ridiculous pittance. Thanks, but no thanks!

As the Post reported on June 1st about the DC Attorney General’s filing with the PSC in opposition, among other results negatively impacting DC ratepayers would be that “benefits could flow from D.C. ratepayers to shareholders of the Illinois company [and that some of the promises the two companies made regarding future electricity rates and reliability in the District ‘illusory.’”

We fully agree with those conclusions. We also agree fully with what Ward # Councilmember Mary Cheh had to say, also as reported by the Post:

“If Exelon takes over Pepco, what will happen is, we will face higher rates. We will face loss of jobs. . . . We will face a lack of accountability, because although they will have an office somewhere, I guess, we will be subject to control by a distant corporation that has little or no concern for us.”

Very worrisome indeed.