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PennFuture Strikes a Balance

Renewable energy interests are vital to contract negotiations in Exelon’s proposed acquisition of the New Jersey Public Service Enterprise Group. Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) wants to ensure that renewable energy policies are included in the contract, so the group will participate in all regulatory proceedings dealing with the purchase, which would create the nation’s largest utility if negotiations are successful.

“We are looking forward to negotiations to guarantee that this projected mega-merger includes protections for both consumers and the environment,” said John Hanger, President and CEO of PennFuture, and former member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). “We hope to obtain guarantees for clean, renewable energy, and that we can greatly expand renewable energy programs already in place.” PennFuture participated in similar negotiations with PECO and Unicom when they proposed merging to form Exelon in 1999. In those negotiations, PECO’s initial merger filing offered no benefits for consumers, the competitive market, or the environment. But the final settlement was a step forward for all three issues. The final PECO and Unicom settlement included a total of $32 million in support of renewable energy. At least $24 million of the settlement was in new funds, and the remainder was an accelerated payment of funds already committed. Wind energy developments benefited significantly with $15.5 million in support of new developments, and $4 million financed the installation of rooftop photovoltaic panels to provide personal solar power. Public education about electricity from renewable energy sources received $2.5 million of the funding, and improvements to Exelon’s “net metering” tariff to make customer installation of solar PV, fuel cells, or other personal power simpler and more economic. “Under Pennsylvania law, the PUC may not approve the merger proposal unless it can be demonstrated to be necessary or proper for public service,” said Hanger. “We intend to make sure that this merger is just that – good for the environment, the economy and consumers.” PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing state and federal legislation, public education, and assisting citizens in public advocacy.