In what many CL&P customers might consider the ultimate irony, the merger talks between CL&P parent company Northeast Utilities (NU) and Massachusetts-based utility giant NStar were delayed earlier this month because CL&P couldn’t get the power turned back on in Connecticut. As a result, the two utilities are now expected to update Massachusetts regulators on their progress Monday.
In essence, the massive entities were delayed in trying to show the merger wouldn’t create a behemoth incapable of properly serving customers because CL&P was busy in Connecticut, not properly serving its customers. You can’t make this up.
Massachusetts utility regulators are closely going over the proposed merger after Connecticut regulators punted, ruling they had no jurisdiction. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen argued strongly that the proposal is the purview of the former state department of public utility control (DPUC), now the public utility regulatory authority. Jepsen tells The Hanging Shad, “It’s very frustrating not to be part of the review process. But as of now, we don’t have standing.”
The review process went off the rails when CL&P couldn’t get out of its own way in the aftermath of the pre-Halloween snow storm. The company was accused of mishandling the response; not having the proper back-up crews hired, paid for and ready; and flat-out lying to local leaders, the governor and the people of the state. The problems led to delays in the talks between NU and NStar.
Massachusetts regulators want to know if the merger of the two monster utilities in one colossal company ($17.5 billion) will hurt local service. The two sides are talking about rates and renewable energy sources to avoid lengthy hearings and multiple reviews that could shoot down the merger in the end. NU and NStar had to cancel the hearing to present their ideas to the state. Hence, the Monday update to regulators.