Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hearings set on Energy East deal

(February 13, 2008) — Eight months after the deal was unveiled, members of the public will have a chance next week to voice their opinions about Iberdrola SA's proposed $4.5 billion purchase of the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric.

A series of six hearings has been scheduled around the state by the Public Service Commission, whose approval is needed before Iberdrola's purchase of Energy East Corp. can proceed.

The Rochester hearing was set for 1 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Central Library. Other hearings will be in Binghamton, Ithaca, Plattsburgh and Erie and Putnam counties.

New York is the only state where Energy East does business that hasn't cleared the deal. Although groups such as Greater Rochester Enterprise have supported the acquisition, the staff of the Public Service Commission last month took the position that customers of RG&E and New York State Electric and Gas, also owned by Energy East, wouldn't benefit.

"The commission should require additional measures to protect NYSEG and RG&E customers from the financial risks of Iberdrola's other businesses, to maintain access to the companies' financial records, and to ensure adequate system reliability and customer service," the PSC staff said.

Iberdrola, which has its headquarters in Bilbao, Spain, is known for its focus on wind energy. In earlier testimony before the PSC, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said that emphasis was important.

"The development of more wind energy is a goal that should be considered when the merger is reviewed," the DEC said.

In addition to the PSC staff's questions about the benefit to consumers, the staff pointed out in recent days that Iberdrola may itself be a takeover target.

Voice Your Choice Say NO to Overhead Power Lines

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