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Contact: Adam Joseph
860-240-8641

March 25, 2011

Senate President Urges Full Review of Proposed Merger of Northeast Utilities & NSTAR

Senator Williams submits testimony to DPUC: says proposed merger “part of an alarming trend” and could drive up energy costs in Connecticut

Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn) submitted written testimony today to the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC), which is considering whether to launch a full review into the proposed merger of Northeast Utilities (NU) and NStar.

Senator Williams said the proposed merger is “monolithic in scope,” citing the fact that the companies currently serve more than 3.5 million customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and warrants an investigation by state regulators.

“A corporate merger of this magnitude will have significant and potentially adverse consequences for the residents of Connecticut and the other affected states,” reads Senator Williams’ testimony. “I am particularly concerned about any unfavorable effect on Connecticut’s efforts to reduce energy costs for businesses and families and whether the result of the merger will be less competition, less accountability, higher prices and fewer jobs in the state of Connecticut.”

Senator Williams argued that regulators in Massachusetts, who are also concerned about the effects of the merger, recently changed their standard for approval of utility mergers. The previous standard required that a utility merger cause no net harm to Massachusetts consumers. The new standard is that the merger must provide a net benefit to the Massachusetts energy community.

Senator Williams asked the DPUC, “What about Connecticut consumers? Where is their representation in evaluating this merger that will create New England’s largest utility holding company? Will the benefits to Massachusetts come at the expense of Connecticut ratepayers?”

Senator Williams’ testimony included references to other mergers in the energy industry which are happening at an expedited rate, often without thorough reviews. Given the fragile state of Connecticut’s economy, Senator Williams is urging the DPUC to take action:

“With Connecticut’s unemployment rate at 9 percent and our economy still suffering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, laying off employees and transferring jobs out of state—another likely outcome of the corporate merger—is the wrong step to take. We must learn from the mergers in other sectors of our economy that have eliminated thousands of jobs that have never been recovered. Given the magnitude of the impact that this merger will have on ratepayers, I strongly encourage the DPUC to exercise its jurisdiction to fully review the pending merger of Northeast Utilities (NU) and NStar.”

Read Senator Williams’ testimony regarding Docket 10-12-05 Petition of the Office of Consumer Counsel for a Declaratory Ruling that the Pending Merger of Northeast Utilities and NSTAR Requires Approval by the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.

 

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