Conn. AG worried with utility merger

Bryan Cohen Feb. 15, 2012, 1:00pm


NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen requested on Tuesday that state utility regulators require that the proposed merger between Northeast Utilities and Boston-based NSTAR demonstrate that it is in the public interest.

Jepsen gave the statement as the Public Utilities Control Authority began evidentiary hearings on the proposed merger in New Britain. Jepsen has yet to take a position on the merger.

"The applicants must prove that customers will be better off as a result of the proposed merger, not worse," Jepsen said. "Benefits must be in the form of tangible, up-front rate credits and a reasonable sharing of merger savings achieved over time, as well as guarantees that service quality, customer service and most importantly, storm response, are improved as a result of the merger."

Jepsen wants to see what evidence the utility companies can present to support their claims that the merger would lead to a stronger company that is more able to improve customer service, emergency response, service reliability and save its customers money.

"You cannot simply assume that 'bigger is better' and that customer benefits will result sometime in the future," Jepsen said. "Customers must be assured that costs will not increase as a result of this merger."

The hearings will continue on the proposed merger this week and next. They will include a hearing for public comment on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Hartford at the Legislative Office Building. The schedule currently lists a draft decision for the end of March with a final decision scheduled for early April.

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