Statement from Attorney General Peter F. Neronha on appealing the decision to approve sale of Narragansett Electric
Today, my Office has filed a motion in Rhode Island Superior Court to appeal and stay yesterday’s decision by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to approve the sale of Narragansett Electric to Pennsylvania-based PPL. This proposed transaction would have enormous consequences for all Rhode Islanders, and we will continue to advocate to ensure an electric and gas utility that is in the best interests of Rhode Islanders and that complies with Rhode Island law.
As detailed in court filings, my Office has appealed the decision on the grounds that it does not sufficiently provide assurances that the sale is in the best interests of Rhode Islanders, including whether or not: the sale would result in degradation of services or significant rate increases; PPL is capable of creating an effective storm response without increasing costs to ratepayers; PPL can provide necessary IT services without increasing costs to ratepayers; and PPL can effectively work with the state to meet emissions and other goals required by the Act on Climate. Additionally, the decision did not consider whether PPL had a viable post-transaction financial plan, nor was one submitted. I am not alone in raising these issues —the DPUC’s own attorneys and experts expressed serious unresolved concerns about this transaction during the hearing before the DPUC.
Furthermore, I am concerned about the legal standard that was used by the hearing officer in reaching the decision – a legal standard that creates a low threshold for approval of these significant transactions that would potentially leave Rhode Islanders at future risk.
As previously argued by this Office, as well as by the Advocacy Section of the DPUC, it is critical that transacting parties provide assurances that the sale will be consistent with the public interest, will not result in a degradation of services and rate increases for Rhode Islanders, and will meet requirements under the Act on Climate.