- The District of Columbia Court of Appeals last week unanimously rejected a challenge to the merger of Pepco holdings and Exelon Corp., a mega-deal completed last year that created the largest utility in the nation by customer base.
- Opponents of the deal cited what they believe are multiple procedural errors in the Public Service Commission's decision.Those challenging the merger include The Washington D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC) and DC Solar United Neighborhoods jointly with Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy watchdog.
- The PSC approved approved the merger in 2016 after a lengthy process and an initial rejected resulted in new conditions being added to the deal. The city's first rejection of the deal was in August 2015.
It was more than a year ago that the deal was announced, and the circuit court's decision may finally bring it to an end, though the two companies began merging their operations in 2016.
The court's opinion included a finding that the PSC provided reasonable public notice of the hearings relating to the nonunanimous settlement agreement (NSA).
"There was substantial public participation at the hearings on the NSA: over 250 residents, community groups, non-profits, and businesses registered to submit oral comments," the court wrote. "At least twelve witnesses presented live testimony, multiple parties submitted written testimony, and fourteen interested parties filed twelve post-hearing initial briefs and nine reply briefs."
"Under the circumstances, we have no difficulty concluding that the commission provided adequate public notice," the court wrote.
OPC opposed Exelon's original proposal to purchase Pepco Holdings in 2014, and since then have played a major role in subsequent settlements and proposals. Exelon eventually hammered out a settlement agreement with Mayor Muriel Boaser (D) and other merger stakeholders for more residential consumer financial benefits. Sandra Mattavous-Frye, counsel for OPC, signed on to the agreement as well. But regulators balked at that settlement as well, over concners it would not allow for fair competition among vendors nor responsible application of funding for certain low-income and environmental programs.
And within that process, some provisions guarenteeing financial benefits for residents were removed, spurring OPC's challenge.
Lawyers for D.C. SUN and Public Citizen told the Washington Business Journal the groups are "considering our next steps." The merger combined Exelon’s three electric and gas utilities (BGE, ComEd and PECO) with Pepco’s three (Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco.
Correction: A previous version of the headline incorrectly said the DC Circuit Court rejected the challenge to the Exelon-Pepco merger.