(June 13, 2013) The New York state Public Service Commission unanimously approved the $1.5 billion bid by Canadian-based Fortis Inc. to take over Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.’s parent company, CH Energy Group despite “fierce public hostility.” Commission Chairman Garry Brown warned Fortis to avoid looking at the local utility as a profit-generating holding. “Get to know New York,” he advised Fortis. “The way you may do things, business, elsewhere is not New York,” in a probable reference to Fortis’s controversial record of dam-building in Belize.
By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE
Correspondent for the Daily Freeman
Thursday, June 13, 2013
The New York state Public Service Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the $1.5 billion bid by Canadian-based Fortis Inc. to take over Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.’s parent company, CH Energy Group.
Commissioners made the 4-0 decision after two administrative law judges recommended the deal be accepted despite the depth of objections by opponents.
“We realized that reasonable people could look at the exact same facts and come to a different conclusion,” said Administrative Law Judge David Prestemon.
On May 3, Prestemon and fellow Administrative Law Judge Rafael Epstein had recommended the takeover be rejected because it had “produced fierce public hostility” while not attracting any support at public hearings. Prestemon told commissioners on Thursday, however, that CH Energy’s ability to muster supporters and changes proposed by Fortis swayed them to revise the recommendation.
Commission Chairman Garry Brown said Poughkeepsie-based CH Energy should be lauded because it has developed a good reputation, and he warned Fortis to avoid looking at the local utility as a profit-generating holding.
“If there’s one theme to the comments that I heard from just about everywhere, (it) was that people appreciated the local-focused nature of the Central Hudson service territory,” Brown said.
“They (Fortis) are buying a franchise not a profit center,” he added. “New York regulations remain in place.
“Get to know New York,” he advised Fortis. “The way you may do things, business, elsewhere is not New York. Understand New York regulatory policy, understand the way we do things, understand our rules and regulations and condition.”
The buyout first was proposed in early 2012 and quickly become controversial. State-run public hearings on the deal drew nothing but objections.
Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.
For more on Fortis Inc.’s record in Belize, see Probe International’s Chalillo Dam archive here.