The D.C. Public Service Commission will hold public hearings next week to receive input from Washington Gas customers regarding an estimated $6.4 billion buyout of its parent company WGL Holdings by AltaGas, a Canadian energy company.
Washington Gas was not for sale, according to company officials, but when approached by AltaGas, a proposed merger presented an opportunity for Washington Gas to offer greater power and utility options for its 1.1 million customers throughout the DC area.
If the merger is approved, Washington Gas will remain the same stand-alone utility company, explained Brian Edwards, WG director of communications and spokesman. The name will not change, the current executive team will remain in tack and approximately 65 new positions will be added. With the AltaGas buyout, Edwards said, “We see the opportunity to become a stronger company by partnering with a complimentary company that has very similar values, beliefs and commitments.”
One Washington Gas executive expressed his positive view about the merger.
“We are excited about the benefits that our merger with AltaGas will bring for the residents of Washington, D.C., and the whole region,” said Marcellous Frye Jr., vice president for business services and public policy at Washington Gas. “By joining with AltaGas, Washington Gas will be in an even stronger position to deliver exceptional service at affordable rates, increase our support for local, diverse businesses; invest more in workforce training programs and provide greater support for nonprofit organizations that serve our citizens.”
Once the merger is approved, Washington Gas shareholders will receive $88.25 per share for WGL company stocks, and WG customers can expect a one-time $50 rate credit. None of the costs associated with the buyout will be passed on to the customers, Edwards said.
WGL officials don’t anticipate a lengthy buyout process, unlike the recent merger between Pepco and Exelon that lasted nearly two years.
The Office of the People’s Counsel, however, has gone on record opposing the merger and citing “several serious deficiencies in the company’s application.” In a recent press release, People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye urged the Public Service Commission to reject the merger application concluding that it “would not be in the public interest and will not provide benefits to ratepayers that exceed the considerable costs that will result.”
Washington Gas and AltaGas executives spent several weeks meeting with community leaders, business owners, non-profit leaders and ANC commissioners in all eight wards in an effort to inform them about the merger and to address any questions or concerns residents may have.
Edwards said Washington Gas executives are proud to partner with a company that shares its commitment to increase investments and support for the community. Among its commitments, WGL and AltaGas have agreed to increase energy efficient improvements in the homes of low-income residents to the tune of $2.2 million; to invest $1.5 million in the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF) administered by Washington Gas; to contribute $1.2 million in charitable contributions and local community support per year in the DC area over the next 10 years; and to increase Washington Gas supplier diversity commitments over the next 10 years, from 25 percent to 35 percent.
Washington Gas also commits to invest in workforce development and training programs to meet the growing demand for jobs in the energy sector and has committed to a new public safety program.
The hearings will take place on: Monday, Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m. Anacostia Library/Ora Glover Community Room, 1800 Good Hope Road, SE; Tuesday, Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m., Trinity University/O’Connor Auditorium, 125 Michigan Avenue, NE; Wednesday, Nov. 29, 10:00 a.m., Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 800; Thursday, Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m., and Greater Washington Urban League/Pepco Community Room 2901 14th Street NW.
To testify or to learn more about the community hearings, call 202-626-5150 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.