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Wind farm is tied to merger OK

Iberdrola SA says that if the Public Service Commission does not approve its $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp., it will look elsewhere to make the $2 billion in wind-farm investments it plans for New York.

“Then Iberdrola would not view New York as a state with an attractive regulatory environment in which to target future investment,” the company said in filing Thursday with the PSC. “In that event, Iberdrola would seek to redirect its resources from New York to other locations.”

Iberdrola’s remarks are the latest – and perhaps the last – that it will make officially in the lengthy approval process that the transaction has gone through before the PSC, the state agency that regulates utility companies.

Energy East, based in Maine, is the parent company of Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas, which collectively serve about 1.3 million customers in upstate New York.

The five governor-appointed members of the PSC must ultimately vote to approve or deny the deal. They are expected to vote at their August meeting at the earliest.

But before that occurs, the process involves a legal proceeding that plays out much like a trial, with evidence submitted by the companies and various interested parties such as the staff at the PSC, the Consumer Protection Board and a group of large industrial businesses known as multiple intervenors.

The latest brief filed by the multiple intervenors on Thursday said the five PSC commissioners should ignore Iberdrola’s threat not to build wind farms in New York.

“Efforts to hold the possibility of future wind generation development ‘hostage’ to merger approval should be met with skepticism and accorded little or no weight,” the companies wrote.

By Larry Rulison
Business Writer

Times Union

4 July 2008