energy

NStar, Northeast utilities make concessions for merger

Posted 2/15/12

BOSTON – Nstar and Northeast Utilities potentially have reached an agreement with Massachusetts officials that would allow the two to merge, according to the Boston Globe.

The utilities agreed to freeze electric distribution rates through 2015 and give customers a one-time rebate of $21 million or about $12 to $15 per ratepayer.

They also agreed to buy 27.5 percent of Cape Wind’s electricity, which would allow the offshore wind farm project to get underway, the Globe said, citing state officials. Cape Wind would provide about 2 percent of the merged utilities’ total power needs.

The electric companies had resisted buying Cape Wind power because of its higher costs compared to conventional energy sources. The $17.5 billion merger between NStar and Northeast has been held up since October 2010. Gov. Deval L. Patrick insisted the merger should promote cleaner sources of energy and Attorney General Martha Coakley said it should result in cost savings and efficiencies that would benefit ratepayers.

However, Massachusetts officials have not given the final OK, pending a decision by Connecticut regulators on the merger. Northeast is based in Connecticut and regulators have decided to review the merger on concern that the Massachusetts conditions could adversely affect their ratepayers. A decision is slated for April, the Globe said.

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