Stadium Deal Not Tied to Bowser Agreement
Environmentalists are being disingenuous or they’re flat-out wrong when they claim that the proposed $6.8 billion merger between Pepco and Exelon doesn’t provide tangible customer benefits and interferes with clean energy efforts, Exelon officials said.
The fact is, the merger settlement enjoys broad support in the District, said Paul Elsberg, the senior media relations manager for Exelon.
“The merger settlement was endorsed and signed not only by the D.C. government, but by the Office of the People’s Counsel which is the ratepayer advocate, the Office of the Attorney General, the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington, and the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, among others,” Elsberg said.
A majority of the District of Columbia Council – seven members – have sent a letter to the Public Service Commission stating their support for the settlement and urging the PSC to approve the deal.
Also, numerous residents, business leaders, faith groups, nonprofits and others have come out in support of the merger and the settlement, some by signing an online petition and others in more public forums, Elsberg said.
On a news conference call held on Tuesday, Oct. 27, opponents DC Sun, Public Citizen’s Energy Program, Chesapeake Climate Action and an energy analyst from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, claimed that the merger presents a conflict of interest with the District.
“We’re concerned about how this happened … now Pepco and Exelon are tied at the hip with D.C. government pushing for an expedited review,” said Anya Schoolman, the executive director of DC Sun, an organization that expands access to solar by educating District residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy.
“Mayor [Muriel] Bowser’s decision to settle with Exelon does nothing to change the fundamental conflict of interest identified by the Public Service Commission in their unanimous rejection of this bad deal,” Schoolman said.
Elsberg said those statements simply are untrue and have not been proven.
“Our new merger proposal has numerous commitments that accelerate the District’s progress toward its sustainability goals, and the District Department of Energy and Environment supports it. Exelon will significantly expand solar energy in the District by developing up to 10 megawatts of new solar generation,” he said.
To put that in context, the District currently has a total of about 15 megawatts of solar. The company also will make it easier and faster for customers to install solar panels, Elsberg said. Exelon will invest $7 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in D.C. and contribute $10.05 million to the District’s Green Building Fund.
Additionally, Exelon will purchase 100 megawatts of wind energy, and Pepco will coordinate with the District to develop at least four new micro grids.
Schoolman and others opposed to the merger claimed that Bowser changed her stand against the merger after reaching a $25 million stadium naming rights deal with Pepco.
Again, the company denies that the deal was a quid pro quo agreement.
“Pepco and the District of Columbia executed a sale agreement in July under which the District will buy property in the Buzzard Point area that will be used to build a major league soccer stadium. Since then, the parties have been finalizing the required arrangements to enable the sale to close,” Elsberg said.
“The closing is targeted for this fall, and marks the conclusion of negotiations between Pepco and the District that began in 2013.
“Because the development will increase the value of property Pepco and its parent company will still own in the area and Pepco’s varied development and community interests across the District, Pepco sought an opportunity to sponsor one or more projects to be developed in District,” he said.
Pepco is paying $25 million for the sponsorship, which provides Pepco the opportunity to promote its brand and to contribute to the community.
The sponsorship rights agreement was signed with the District on Sept. 18, before the settlement agreement was signed, it is not conditioned on the merger closing and has value whether or not the merger closes, company officials said.
Also, on Oct. 28, the D.C. PSC agreed to reopen the case to consider the settlement as part of the current proceeding.
“We are pleased that the Commission will consider our settlement agreement with the District government, Office of the People’s Counsel, Attorney General and others within the existing proceeding,” company officials said in a statement.
“The procedural schedule approved by the commission has reply briefs filed on Dec. 18, which would allow for the commission’s decision sometime in the first quarter of 2016,” the statement continued.
“The schedule affords all parties and the public a fair opportunity to present their positions and ensures that the commission has a complete record to render its decision.”