The purchase of an East Coast electric utility was halted Tuesday when the District of Columbia Public Service Commission blocked it, at least partly because of concerns that the new company would not focus on renewable energy.

Chicago-based Exelon, the parent company to Baltimore Gas and Electric, is attempting to take over Pepco, which supplies power in several mid-Atlantic states and Washington, D.C. For the merger to go through, the commissions governing public utilities in each of the six jurisdictions involved had to approve it. All but the District of Columbia gave their blessings to the deal, which is valued in excess of $6 billion.

Exelon is primarily a power-generation company with more nuclear plants than any other U.S. utility. The company has consistently fought renewable energy efforts and the rejection of the merger came as a welcome surprise to clean energy advocates.

“Exelon has a long history of using the company’s political influence to restrict renewable energy policies,” Gabe Elsner, executive director of the Energy & Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., told ThinkProgress. “If the D.C. PSC had approved the merger, Exelon would have been empowered to continue its anti-renewable campaign, but the PSC’s rejection of the merger could help ensure that these two states’ renewable energy policies remain in place and continue to support the growth of renewable energy industry in D.C. and Maryland.”

Loss of local control and the lack of evidence for promised service improvements also figured in the D.C. commission’s decision (pdf).

“The public policy…

Continue Reading