Standard of Review for Utility Mergers gets Upgrade in MA

Karen Wood

An important development today in the Northeast Utilities/NStar merger proceeding: the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MA DPU) announced that it will modernize the standard of review for utility mergers, including requiring that climate change impacts be taken into account. CLF issued the following statement in response:

Sue Reid, director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Massachusetts office, said, “The DPU’s decision to modernize the standard of review for utility mergers and require that climate change impacts be taken into account is a very welcome development. A merger like the one proposed by NU and NSTAR – which would create the largest utility in New England and one of the largest in the nation – appropriately should be required to meet a “net benefit” test, rather than the mere “no net harm” standard used in the past. This change goes to the core of the merger petition filed by NU and NSTAR. These companies now must bear the burden of proof to demonstrate how this merger would benefit the public – in terms of jobs created, consumer choice, renewable energy commitments, and greenhouse gas reductions in keeping with Massachusetts’ ambitious requirements. It also will provide a more meaningful opportunity to address widespread concerns raised by stakeholders from the environmental, business and labor communities about the potential impacts of the proposed merger.”

CLF intervened in the NU/NStar proceeding in January, 2011.

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