Melissa Sherrod: Merger is good for consumers

This week wrapped up two weeks of public hearings in Maryland on our proposed merger of Exelon and Pepco Holdings, Inc. This was an open process, and involved feedback and discussions from many interested parties. We value this feedback and want to know what Maryland residents expect from their utility company. We hear that Marylanders want fewer and shorter power outages, reasonable rates, local management and community involvement –all done in an environmentally friendly way. And that’s precisely what the merger of our two companies will deliver.

This deal will provide a $40 million customer fund in Maryland, which can be used for bill credits, low-income customer assistance or energy-efficiency programs. It also includes a commitment to donate more than $600,000 annually to Maryland’s charitable and community organizations. And it will improve the reliability of electric service for customers – while maintaining affordable rates.

Some critics have questioned whether the merger will actually improve reliability performance, and we’d like to address that. Exelon and Pepco Holdings have committed to exceed the Maryland Public Service Commission’s reliability standards, and will cut the number and length of power outages by about 40 percent for both Pepco and Delmarva Power customers in the state. That is a significant improvement in service reliability.

Others have asked whether this deal could diminish the utility’s local management. But that’s not the case. Exelon’s philosophy is for its businesses to be run locally by experienced utility leaders who work and live right in their own service areas. That’s how Exelon’s utilities in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago are managed, and that’s how Pepco and Delmarva Power would operate, too. Pepco and Delmarva Power will maintain their local operational headquarters and their local leadership.

We also want to be clear about Exelon’s environmental credentials. We are proud to be the nation’s 11th largest wind energy producer, owner of the country’s largest urban solar power plant in Chicago, and the largest producer of carbon-free energy in Maryland, including our 16.1-megawatt Mount St. Mary’s University solar facility, which is currently the state’s largest, and our 110 megawatts of wind power operating in the state. Our utilities also facilitate customers’ installation of solar panels on their homes or businesses. In fact, BGE has more than 4,400 net metered customers with over 50 megawatts of distributed generation.

Exelon runs one of the cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets in the United States, and we support addressing climate change, increasing renewables and achieving a clean energy future.

We respect and value all of the feedback we’ve received from various parties throughout the course of the approval process. To our broad and diverse group of supporters, we say thank you. And for those who continue to question the value of this merger, we encourage them to look no further than our 2012 merger with Constellation and BGE. Since that time, BGE’s reliability and customer satisfaction have risen to the highest levels in its history. We’ve donated millions of dollars each year to the local community, invested nearly $3 billion in BGE’s electric and gas distribution systems and are building a new headquarters at Harbor Point that is creating hundreds of new construction jobs.

While we respect all parties’ views and opinions, it is hard to see why anyone would want to deny these kinds of benefits to Maryland.

Ultimately, the question that regulators – and all stakeholders – must answer is whether this deal is in the public interest. We believe strongly that it is – and will provide substantial benefits to Maryland customers and the community.

Melissa Sherrod is vice president of corporate relations for Exelon and is based in Washington, D.C. 

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