NORTHEAST UTILTIES MERGER WITH NSTAR IN TROUBLE?

The controversial, proposed merger between Northeast Utilities and NStar is being questioned by Massachusetts officials who want a delay in the deal that could prove fatal to what was to become one of the nation’s largest utility companies.

The administration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has asked regulators in that state to stop its review of the merger until NSTAR can conduct a review of its rate structure. While that may not sound complicated, it could delay the merger by months, into next year and could sink the deal altogether.

Connecticut’s department of public utility control (DPUC) essentially punted on even reviewing the merger, claiming it did not have the authority to review it because the merger between Connecticut-based NU and Massachusetts-based NStar, would create a new corporation. That of course, is nonsense and is akin to the DPUC abdicating its responsibility. Both Attorney general George Jepsen and Consumer Counsel Mary Healey maintain the DPUC can and should review the deal.

But it may all be moot now if the Patrick administration has its way.