BPU Staff Raises Concerns About PSEG-Exelon Merger

Newsday — Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Associated Press Writer

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Energy regulators in New Jersey are worried that allowing Chicago-based Exelon Corp. to merge with New Jersey's largest utility, Public Service Energy Group, would hurt the state's consumers.

In written testimony submitted to the state Board of Public Utilities on Monday and made public Tuesday, the BPU's staff raised concerns that the combined company could unfairly drive up wholesale prices and consumers' energy bills.

The $12 billion stock deal, proposed last December, would create Exelon Electric & Gas and provide electricity or natural gas to 18 million people in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"New Jersey ratepayers face excessive risks from the merger," Judah L. Rose wrote on behalf of the BPU staff. The new company, he said, would have too great a share of the electric generation business in the region, Rose said.

PSEG spokeswoman Karen Johnson said the company would have no immediate comment on the filings. It would file a rebuttal by Dec. 5, she said.

The testimony released Tuesday echoes concerns raised by two consumer advocacy groups, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group and New Jersey Citizen Action.

While it raises concerns, the staff testimony does not take an overall position on the deal.

The approval is up to the board, not its staff. The board plans to consider the deal next year, said spokesman Doyle Siddell.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the merger in July.

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