DC Mayor Muriel Bowser All But Kills Mega-Energy Merger of Pepco-Exelon

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 03, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It looks like the very expensive deal that was set to create the nation's largest utility just about got killed thanks to some rather unexpected developments in which District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser withdrew her support, according to the Associated Press. The proposal is "not in the public interest," said she.

Bowser and other interested parties are facing a ticking clock. The general skeleton of a new deal must be fleshed out by March 11. And with $250 million already in the hole, Exelon is unlikely to take this bump in the road lying down.

Not in the Public Interest

Bowser had earlier been a proponent of a deal going through in which at least some company would take over the reins of Pepco -- if not Exelon, then some other company. She had consistently maintained, however, that the DC locals must be protected in the form of some guarantee against a rate hike. Without a guarantee to hold down utility rates, she said, the city's poor would be disproportionately be affected.

Big Business has been watching the deal rather closely not only for the fact that it would create the nation's largest utility, but also for the tone the merger would create for future energy business in the region.

But more importantly, she said the deal would only appear to worsen federal taxpayer burden which essentially amounts to an unfair subsidy of DC rates. She had hoped to get a guarantee in the counterproposal that rate hikes would not be allowed until after the next mayoral election.

Winners and Losers

There aren't too many in the way of winners in the wake of the killed deal, with one of the exceptions being environmental groups who felt that the deal would only strengthen big-business energy interests in the region. So far, the counterproposals strike the mayor as unacceptable and would even "gut" much of the needed protections in place for DC residents already.

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