U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has sent a list of questions to Iberdrola, the international company that plans to purchase New York State Electric & Gas parent Energy East, to ensure the takeover will be smooth.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said upstate New York energy customers were “suffering from recent power outages and soaring utility bills” following National Grid’s takeover of Niagara Mohawk, and he’s concerned Iberdrola’s purchase of Energy East will have similar results.
On June 25, Spain-based Iberdrola proposed a $4.5 billion purchase of Energy East.
Schumer said Iberdrola “has a strong track record for quality service” and he “has not yet passed judgment” on the transaction.
His concerns, addressed to Iberdrola management in a letter dated Thursday, center on several points, including rates, new facility construction, facility upgrades, economic development, existing job retention and wind power.
Schumer noted that NYSEG delivery rates were stable or reduced between 2003 and 2007.
He asked Iberdrola what its short- and long-term plans are for the rates of residential and commercial customers.
The senator also asked whether Iberdrola would provide a pool of low-cost power to help create jobs throughout New York.
Iberdrola is a leader in providing renewable energy, the senator added.
He asked Iberdrola if it plans to invest in wind power projects in New York.
That’s one of the goals of the acquisition, according to Wes von Schack, chairman and chief executive officer of Energy East.
When the purchase was announced, von Schack said the objective was to increase renewable sources of energy, improve energy efficiency and invest in a secure and reliable energy infrastructure.
Schumer said he wants to make sure that happens.
“The National Grid takeover of Niagara Mohawk gave upstate New Yorkers a textbook example of what they don’t want in a utility merger: soaring bills and shoddy service,” Schumer said.
“It’s time to take a proactive approach and seek public guarantees from Iberdrola that it will deliver top-notch service and reasonable rates to New York consumers.”
The senator’s office said it is awaiting a response.
By George Spohr
Gannett News Service
27 July 2007
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