FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jeanne K. Clark
June 26, 1998 412/421-6072
Pittsburgh, June 26 – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) vote today to reconsider its earlier decision on the proposed merger of Duquesne Light and Allegheny Power is alarming, according to Citizen Power, a Western Pennsylvania consumer and environmental watchdog group.
David Hughes, Executive Director of Citizen Power said, “If the backroom, business as usual politics that we’ve uncovered within the PUC prevails, customers and competitors could be frozen out. Now that independent PUC Commissioner John Hanger has been replaced by a political appointee, the PUC will now ‘reconsider’ their earlier decision, even though the Companies presented no evidence warranting such a reconsideration.
“This merger will kill competition, kill jobs and crush Western Pennsylvania customers with exorbitant electric rates. The original PUC decision recognized that, and required the Companies to act to prevent it from happening.
“But the new Ridge-controlled PUC, where private communications seem to be the norm, and ethics appear to be elastic, is re-thinking the merger decision. We fear that they are intent on doing the Companies’ bidding, rather than protecting Pennsylvanians.
“Despite the name-calling we’ve endured from the Companies, we will continue our fight. The public has a right to a fair process, and to true competition, just as they were promised by the Governor, the legislature and the PUC. We intend to make them keep those promises,” concluded Hughes.
Citizen Power is an officially designated Public Interest Intervenor in the Western Pennsylvania cases on electricity restructuring. Earlier this week, Citizen Power and other local organizations released evidence of secret, private and illegal communications on these cases between the PUC Chair’s office and Duquesne Light, as well as evidence of apparent intervention on the merger case by Gov. Tom Ridge. Citizen Power is considering further legal action on these issues. For more information or copies of the documents referred to above, contact Jeanne K. Clark at 412/421-6072.