DC SUN releases thorough rebuke of proposed merger

By Ben Delman on May 13, 2015

Today, DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) released a thorough rebuke of utility and energy generation giant Exelon’s attempted takeover of mid-Atlantic electric distribution company Pepco. The organization filed a brief with the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) demonstrating the significant harm to ratepayers should Exelon acquire Pepco. DC SUN’s brief conclusively shows the proposed merger would reverse the District’s progress in developing lower-cost, environmentally-friendly energy choices.

“The PSC should reject Exelon’s attempt to take over Pepco because it is not in the best interests of D.C. residents,” said Anya Schoolman, President of DC SUN. “We want a choice in where our energy comes from. Inviting a utility with deep investments in power generation into our community puts that choice at risk.”

Pepco has no generation assets, so it sees solar as an opportunity. Exelon, however, considers development of this alternative energy source a competitive “threat” to its vast fleet of nuclear power generators.

In a September 2014 Strategic Plan, Exelon warned that the growth of distributed generation like rooftop solar will reduce demand for power from nuclear plants, lower energy prices, cut Exelon’s revenues, and “cannibalize” its nuclear generation business. Exelon is determined to prevent that “cannibalization” and seeks to reverse policies that put solar energy on a level playing field.

The District relies on rooftop solar installations as a key component of its environmental public policy. Solar produces green electric energy, while also lowering everyone’s electric rates. Solar energy creates good local jobs. The growth of solar energy has also enhanced grid reliability by reducing reliance on the distribution grid, and stimulating more vigorous energy competition.

Exelon’s business model puts it at odds with the interests of D.C. residents. The District must have a utility that embraces diverse owners, investors, and developers to build an equitable, clean, competitive, affordable, reliable grid of the future. DC SUN’s brief demonstrates that Exelon’s proposed acquisition of Pepco is not in the public interest, and the PSC should deny the application.