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CEG deal stalls

Maryland energy regulators said Thursday that more time is required to review Constellation Energy Group's $4.5 billion deal with a French utility, forcing the company to miss its deadline to close the transaction.

Constellation said it was disappointed and warned that "any delay in a transaction of this magnitude adds to the risk of it not closing, which would be a real loss for Maryland."

The Public Service Commission had expected to issue a decision by Sept. 17 on whether the company's agreement to sell half its nuclear power business to Electricite de France is in the public's interest. Constellation and EDF have argued that date is a firm deadline for the deal to be completed.

The PSC's decision comes after the state requested more time to seek information and data from Constellation, the parent of Baltimore Gas and Electric, and EDF, all of which opposed any extensions in the review schedule.

In an order issued Thursday, the PSC said while it has made every effort to complete the review with the deadline in mind, it "cannot and will not compromise the quality of the public interest review of this transaction, and the Commission finds that the public interest in a thorough review outweighs the companies' understandable desire to close by September 17th."

The PSC now expects to issue a ruling by Oct. 16. Evidentiary hearings will begin Sept. 14, instead of Aug. 19.

In addition, the PSC granted a request by several consumer interest groups to hold three evening public hearings in Baltimore, Annapolis and Bel Air. The dates will be announced later.

The state had argued that it did not receive full responses to its data requests from Constellation, BGE and EDF. Maryland's Office of People's Counsel and the PSC's staff joined the state in asking for more time.

Constellation spokesman Rob Gould said the company has been working diligently to stay on the original schedule and met every deadline, noting the PSC began reviewing the deal in February.

"During this time, Constellation Energy, BGE and EDF have produced in excess of 15,000 pages of documents, provided unprecedented access to senior corporate officers for hours of depositions and testimony, and submitted numerous briefs and expert testimony," Gould said.

"We believe that the parties have all of the information reasonably necessary to review the EDF transaction," he added.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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