NorthJersey.com

Coalition Urges BPU To Block Sale Of PSEG

NorthJersey.com — Thursday, October 13, 2005

By KEVIN G. DeMARRAIS
STAFF WRITER

A coalition of some of the state's largest commercial energy users joined with labor unions and consumer organizations in Trenton on Wednesday in challenging Public Service Enterprise Group's $12 billion sale to a Chicago utility.

PSEG's sale to Exelon Corp., which was announced 10 months ago, would create the nation's largest utility.

The sale has received approvals from several federal and state agencies, but still faces its biggest hurdle, New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities.

The BPU expects to complete its review process by spring 2006.

The agency voted unanimously in June that the companies would have to show that the sale provides "positive benefits" to the state to gain approval.

Steven Goldenberg, attorney for the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition, expressed concern "about the potential market power of these companies and the ability to raise the cost of electricity to New Jersey consumers who already pay rates that are among the highest in the nation."

The diverse group of organizations at the State House news conference "all agree that we oppose [the sale] as submitted," Goldenberg said.

"On each of the four elements – rates, effect on competition, reliability and employees – there is no question that the current petition does not supply those positive benefits."

Goldenberg said the review process must continue without political interference.

"Our group is particularly concerned that the BPU, as the regulatory agency with decades of expertise in these matters, continue to have the freedom to review this matter in the manner that best serves the public interest," Goldenberg said.

The coalition includes some of New Jersey's largest corporations, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc. and the Pathmark and A&P supermarket chains.

Others at the Trenton event included the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, Utility Workers Union Local 601, New Jersey Citizen Action, the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, the NAACP Voter Fund–New Jersey and the Service Employees International Union.

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