at the Citizen Power Alliance 2010 Wind Conference
Iberdrola acquisition still in play
|An administrative law judge's ruling to reject the Iberdrola merger in its current form is not the final word.|
The process to make a final determination is still very much in play, and all vested parties should make the most of it. The deadline to comment on the judge's recommended decision is July 1, after which the senior staff of the Public Service Commission will put together its draft order for the commissioners.
This is an opportunity for all involved to ensure that all pertinent details are gathered and concerns addressed.
The staff of the Public Service Commission has come under criticism for being overly restrictive, and in some cases rightfully so. Iberdrola continues to provide a strong case for itself in the way of economic development to the state, as well as wind energy capabilities. The Spanish conglomerate recently pledged to invest $2 billion in wind energy in New York.
Judge Raphael Epstein encouraged the PSC to set certain conditions — including having Iberdrola sell its wind power facilities in NYSEG-Energy East service areas and grant $646 million in benefits to the public — if it goes forth with the deal. At the least, Epstein has deviated from the PSC's stringent policy view that generation and distribution should remain completely separate, requiring Iberdrola to sell all of its wind interests.
That view seems overly extreme, particularly considering the low rates RG&E customers enjoyed thanks in part to the utility's ownership of the Russell Station plant. The issue is one the senior staff and commissioners should re-examine as the process continues. As the state looks to increase the percentage of power it garners from alternative energy, deals like the one with Iberdrola should be heavily considered.
This page has said the PSC is right to uphold its core duty of ensuring the public interest is protected. But how "public interest" is protected and what constitutes a "net benefit" are open to debate. And a strong case could easily be made in Iberdrola's favor.
Let the remainder of the process play out, with the final, and hopefully informed, say going to the five-member commission.
posted by CITIZEN POWER ALLIANCE at 9:12 AM - permanent link
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