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US: Federal agency stops effort to save taxpayers money on utility merger

 |  December 2, 2015

The US agency that pays the government’s electric bills abruptly halted its criticism of a giant utility industry merger late Tuesday after top officials in the agency held private talks with local D.C. officials who support the deal, according to records and interviews.

The decision by the General Services Administration removed the last major critic of a proposed $6.4 billion merger between Pepco, the District’s electric provider, and Exelon, a Chicago-based nuclear energy giant.

The GSA, which purchases power for US government buildings and more energy in the nation’s capital than anyone else, had effectively become the voice of American taxpayers in the mega-merger.

Over the past year, it had repeatedly questioned if the deal might perpetuate a rate structure that District regulators have acknowledged discriminates against federal taxpayers. The government and other large commercial energy users in the city now partially subsidize residential electric rates in DC.

“GSA leaving — this has just killed us,” said Anya Schoolman, founder of the Community Power Network, a small nonprofit that has encouraged clean energy projects and has told the PSC it will not have the resources to question Pepco and Exelon on its own in the new hearing. “GSA was the only one left with the government lawyers needed to tackle this.”

Full content: The Washington Post

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