Opposing anti-renewable energy utility takeover in DC

The CEO of Praxia Partners, our parent company, has submitted testimony to the Public Utility Commission of Washington, DC in opposition to the Exelon-Pepco merger. As Joe Recchie states, the current terms of the merger do not guarantee a stable and supportive environment for investment in renewable energy.

This Exelon merger isn’t just bad for ratepayers, or the renewable energy field, it’s bad for economic development opportunities, and it’s bad for the progressive reputation of the city. If DC wants to protect it’s energy market, and continue to attract investment in it’s communities, it will need to demand serious guarantees and demonstrable commitment to the community from any utility interested in serving this market.

In our opinion, at CRE, the merger would be detrimental to the economic opportunities of the city. We hope DC takes measures to protect its renewable energy sector, DC jobs, and development opportunities in our nation’s capital!

Keep reading after the jump for Joe’s full letter to the Commission.

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Dear Commission Secretary,

I am writing to express my concerns with the Exelon-Pepco merger. I urge you to reject Exelon’s current application to acquire Pepco.

The merger is a bad deal for the District and is not in the public interest. I know you have heard from many DC residents, energy advocates and other individuals and groups expressing concerns with an Exelon takeover. I wanted to voice my concerns as a member of the private sector- specifically potential investors in DC communities.

My name is Joseph Recchie and I am the CEO of the sustainable development firm, Praxia Partners. We are based in Ohio and have worked nationally investing in community-centered development projects ranging from real estate to renewable energy, to social services and social justice advocacy. I am writing as a professional in the renewable energy market, but also as the CEO of a firm that has been actively assessing opportunities to invest in Washington, DC.

Our strategic plan for 2015 includes almost $20 million of investment in community centered renewable energy projects. There is a distinct possibility that all $20 million of that investment this year would be in Washington, DC neighborhoods. Washington’s highly engaged community, its policy makers’ demonstrated commitment to renewable energy, and the cities strong relationship between the current utility, Pepco, and the local renewable energy market has made DC an attractive place for investment capital. DC has worked hard to attract investors that wish to put money in community development and seek to support local renewable energy development. But the very merger being considered now could compromise that hard work.

While Washington, DC has been building a reputation as a progressive and innovative city, Exelon has been building quite a different reputation. The reputation Exelon has built nationally, and within my sector, is the type that threatens the investment climate of communities like Washington, DC. Exelon’s track record of gutting renewable energy markets, squashing energy competition, and discouraging investment in distributed power, makes investors like myself hesitant to spend money in Exelon communities, it makes banks wary of financing renewable energy projects, and it disincentives citizens from choosing cleaner modes of energy.

When assessing a new market for community renewable energy investment, we look for a utility provider that has not only demonstrated good faith in regards to the local renewable energy field, but that has also committed to preserving, supporting and nurturing the positive relationships it’s predecessor’s have built. Without very specific commitments from Exelon in regards to rates, to non-Exelon owned renewable energy, and to preserving local energy policy, investors like myself will be forced to think twice before bringing our capital into DC.

This Exelon merger isn’t just bad for ratepayers, or the renewable energy field, it’s bad for economic development opportunities, and it’s bad for the progressive reputation of the city. If DC wants to protect its energy market, and continue to attract investment in its communities, it will need to demand serious guarantees and demonstrable commitment to the community from any utility interested in serving this market.

In my opinion, as a potential investor, Exelon has not yet met these standards. I strongly urge you to oppose this merger.

Sincerely,

Joseph Recchie
CEO
Praxia Partners

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