CourierPostOnline

Utility Testifies Against Merger

CourierPostOnline — Tuesday, November 15, 2005

By Courier-Post Staff

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Gas Works filed written testimony Monday with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, joining unions, antitrust experts and citizen watchdog groups, opposing the pending merger of Exelon Corp. and Public Service Enterprise Group, also known as PSEG.

"The proposed merger would put millions of people at serious risk for out-of-control electric and gas prices throughout the entire region. Because of the way the entire Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland energy grid works, the impact of this merger would extend far beyond New Jersey," said Steven P. Hershey, vice president of community initiatives at Philadelphia Gas Works.

If approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities next year, the $12 billion deal would create the nation's largest utility with 7 million electric and 2 million natural gas customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

A coalition of energy user groups, consumer advocates and unions announced in October that it will oppose the merger.

Among the opponents:

The New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition represents 22 member pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers and food chains that lobby to keep energy costs competitive.

New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit organization with 25,000 citizen members.

Utility Workers Union of America, Local 601, has 1,400 members, largely meter readers, call center operators, clerical workers and other personnel for PSEG.

New Jersey Citizen Action is the state's largest citizen watchdog.

Chemistry Council of New Jersey represents 105 companies involved in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, flavor and fragrances, petroleum refining and precious metals.

Service Employees International Union, which led the split from AFL-CIO, has 28,000 members working in New Jersey government, health care, sanitation and auto inspections.

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