- The District of Columbia Public Service Commission (PSC) will vote on the proposed acquisition of Pepco Holdings by Chicago-based Exelon in an open meeting on Friday, Feb. 26, according to a release from the regulatory body.
- The D.C. PSC is the final regulatory body that must approve the merger if it is to close. Federal energy regulators, as well as state regulators in New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, have already approved the proposed $6.8 billion acquisition.
- Last year, the PSC rejected an initial merger package, citing an "inherent conflict of interest" between Exelon's business model and the District's clean energy goals. The company struck a settlement deal with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and a group of critical merger stakeholders soon after, promising greater investment in the city and temporary rate freezes for residential customers.
Exelon operates a number of regulated utilities throught the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states, including Chicago's Commonwealth Edison and Baltimore Gas & Electric. If the deal goes through, Exelon would become the largest electric utility in America by the size of its customer base, and it would operate almost entirely in a single wholesale market, the PJM Interconnection.
The size of the resulting company clearly worried District commissioners when they rejected an initial merger proposal last year, citing concerns about their own ability to regulate such a large company, along with other factors like the financial health of Exelon's nuclear plant fleet, which is the largest in the nation.
After that initial rejection, Exelon quickly hammered out a deal with Mayor Bowser's office and a group of merger opponents, hoping to sway regulators for approval on appeal. In October, Utility Dive was the first to break the news that the company had reached a settlement with the mayor's office, including raising its financial commitment to District ratepayers from $14 million to $78 million.
While the settlement is similar to one reached in Maryland, opponents have questioned how it was reached, suggesting the deal may be related to the timing of a $25 million contribution that Pepco made to the District government to help offset costs to build a new stadium for D.C. United, the city's Major League Soccer team. There have also been questions surrounding whether Exelon was asked to contribute to Fresh PAC, a now-shuttered political action committee that supported Mayor Bowser.
Pepco has expressed optimism for the deal's chances, and spokesperson Myra Oppel said most members of the District council support the deal. “It’s clear the small, vocal minority who continue to oppose the merger are becoming increasingly desperate in their last-ditch attempts to disrupt it,” Oppel told the Washington Post in November.