- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The District’s resident advocate in government on Tuesday denounced a revised deal to merge Pepco and Exelon, saying the new agreement steals benefits that should be go to ratepayers.

D.C. People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye said the new deal “eviscerates” benefits to the public by removing a provision that would have taken $25.6 million to offset rate increases through March 2019.

Ms. Mattavous-Frye said that part of the agreement was “the single most critical provision I supported.”

The Office of the People’s Counsel “has consistently focused throughout this long proceeding on ensuring that any outcome is in the best interest of ratepayers, and that the merger’s claimed benefits will be meaningful and verifiable, particularly for our most vulnerable residential ratepayers for whom electric bills consume a whopping and disproportionate percentage of their income,” Ms. Mattavous-Frye said in a statement.

On Friday, the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) struck down the $6.8 billion merger of the city’s electricity supplier with Exelon, a power-generating giant based in Chicago.

But PSC Commissioner Joanne Doddy Fort proposed changes that, if agreed to by both companies and city officials, would allow the deal to proceed. That measure passed in a 2-1 vote.

One of those changes was to reject $25.6 million that the companies would have paid to the city to keep residents’ rates down. The fund would have been used to pay for workforce training and alternative energy projects. The majority of the commissioners said the provision would have forced businesses and the federal government to subsidize lower rates for residents.

“Going forward, we will need to work cooperatively to ensure that all consumers in all 8 wards of our city are guaranteed affordable rates and reliable service, and that once the fanfare dies down, our most vulnerable residents are not forgotten,” Ms. Mattavous-Frye said.

• Ryan M. McDermott can be reached at rmcdermott@washingtontimes.com.

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