I’m a greenie (to candidates, “an environmental voter”). I wondered who would be in favor of the pending sale of Pepco, the power distribution company that sends bills to homes and businesses in the mid-Atlantic, including my house in Washington, DC, to Exelon, a bigger Chicago-based power producer, and significantly, owner of a bunch of shop-worn nuclear reactors. Pepco no longer owns power generators, but instead purchases power from suppliers — coal-, wind-, and solar-generated — and resells it. (How power gets into those little wires on the poles I leave to others to explain.) This is about the only good thing about Pepco — because it no longer operates those messy power plants, it has come around, gradually, to liking the cute solar panels on the roofs of local customers, and is OK with just charging for the wires. We have solar panels on our roof, much diminishing our electrical draw, so I refer to the Pepco bills as just their little charge for staying friends.
So I attended two of the local Public Service Commission hearings about the looming sale to see who would find the behemoth remote company with 20th century holdings superior to one that is smaller, local, and has at least a kite in the renewal-energy wind.
Here’s who likes Exelon: a suspiciously large number of testifiers for the merger essentially admitted to some level of being bought off. They were contractors of one kind or another, beneficiaries of some charitable contribution, or organizations who thought they put on good conferences. Here’s where I squirmed in my chair (and perhaps, maybe, let out an audible noise): golf tournaments. That’s right. At least three proponents — and I did not by a long shot hear all of the testimony — really, really think Exelon is an awesome corporate citizen because of the golf tournaments it has sponsored.
That’s like choosing a dentist who doesn’t fix your teeth but who gives out nice calendars. You can pick another dentist, but it’s still hard for most households to go off-grid, so it’s important to worry more about the product you are actually paying for, and stop ignoring the significant damage done to the environment.
As one testifier said, “We need better than Pepco, but Exelon’s not it.” I recommend the full story about aging nuclear plants seeking bailouts, from which this came, in Daily Kos today.
“To improve its overall balance sheet, Exelon is also trying to take over the mid-Atlantic electricity distribution utility Pepco, a proposal that has engendered substantial opposition in Washington, DC, Maryland and Delaware. DC, for example, has a stated policy of becoming the greenest city in the country with the goal of being 50% renewable powered by 2030–a goal Pepco’s pro-renewable policies support. For its part, Exelon owns the dubious distinction of being the only utility ever thrown out of the American Wind Energy Association for its vociferous anti-renewable policies. A new analysis of the proposed deal by the independent Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recommended that the Washington PSC reject the merger.”
The Washington, DC, Public Service Commission has bean-counters, I hope, who are logging the relatively bogus examples of corporate citizenship against matters of true value.