The state’s Public Service Commission approved the long-debated sale of CH Energy in Poughkeepsie to Fortis Inc. for $1.5 billion.
The commission has the final say over any deal to change ownership of the Hudson Valley utility company, and commissioners Thursday spoke in favor of the agreement.
“We do not take these things lightly and whatever we do we know has impacts, but as a regulatory commission we try to make sure that the protections are there,” said PSC commissioner Patricia Acampora. “And that we can move forward to make sure that the business, along with the interests of the customers, are taken care of. So I will be voting in favor of this particular case.”
PSC commissioner James Larocca added: “From all accounts, I am very comfortable voting in the affirmative on this proposition.”
The commission was hearing testimony Thursday morning on whether customers would benefit from the sale to the Canandian-based utility and how the company’s workforce would be impacted.
“We remain optimistic, as we have shown the transaction to be in the public interest, demonstrated substantial community support and thoroughly addressed the concerns expressed by some of our customers,” John Maserjian, spokesman for Central Hudson, told the Poughkeepsie Journal last week. “We look forward to the Public Service Commission’s decision on Thursday.”
Opponents have urged the state to hold off on a decision, saying the sale agreement announced in Feburary 2012 has moved too hastily and could adversely hurt consumers.
“With the system enhancement they are pledging to, with the new labor-peace agreement they have entered into and their assertion for a rate moratorium for an additional year, those all have longer term rate implications and some of them are not very positive for the rate payers,” said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, Ulster County, on Wednesday.
The commission could take a number of steps, such as delaying a decision, making modifications to the sale or imposing new regulations.