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Statement by Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr
"The wind-chill is under 20 degrees right now, and behalf of thousands of Maryland PIRG members across the state I’m here to tell the PSC: Don’t leave us out in the cold. Please reject the proposed merger between Exelon and Pepco.
"Marylanders deserve access to safe, reliable, and affordable electricity service, and the proposed merger between Exelon and Pepco puts that at risk for millions of Maryland families
"This merger would give Exelon a virtual monopoly in Maryland, putting ratepaying families and businesses at risk of rate hikes and poor service. Maryland PIRG is calling on the Maryland Public Service Commission to reject this merger.
"We’ve heard from many groups against this merger over the last few months. Environmentalist, consumer advocates, small business groups, faith groups, and housing groups all agree. Even Maryland’s Office of People's Counsel, the State agency that is tasked to represent Maryland’s residential utility consumers to the PSC has spoken out loudly against the merger. We hope the PSC will listen. Here’s why:
"Maryland policy makers chose to de-regulate our utility market 15 years ago on the assumption that market forces would lead to lower costs. Giving Exelon control of 85% of the generation and distribution market in Maryland gives Exelon too much market power and is not in the public interest. The proposed merger is directly counter to the competitive marketplace and is bad for consumers because it could reduce reliability, raise rates and risk public safety.
"We’ve all struggled with blackouts and reliability issues with our electricity. At the PSC’s public hearings on the merger I heard complaint after complaint about poor customer service from both Exelon & Pepco customers which underscores the need for the PSC to promote competition in MD’s unregulated utility market.
"Ratepayers contribute to a utility’s profits, maintenance, and construction and are entitled to share in the benefits from a utility merger. Exelon has predicted 80 million annually in cost savings from this merger, but has not made clear that they will share these savings with ratepayers, not just shareholders on an ongoing basis.
"In fact, some signs point to the merger hurting ratepayers. Exelon's business model is reliant on a fleet of aging, dangerous, and expensive nuclear power plants including two MD reactors at Calvert Cliffs. This merger would hold Maryland ratepayers captive to support Exelon’s aging nuclear power fleet. Marylanders should not be subsidizing this expensive, dangerous and outdated technology in Maryland or elsewhere.
"To the extent that ratepayer dollars are used to invest in energy generation, they should be investing in new, clean, safe energy – not propping up outdated nuclear power.
"As the voice of Maryland’s electricity consumers, the Maryland Public Service Commission should stand up for ratepaying families and businesses and reject Exelon’s proposal.
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