HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today expressed approval for the terms of a settlement in the proposed merger of First Energy and Allegheny Energy, saying the deal protects hundreds of jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania while making critical investments in clean energy and energy conservation.
“This settlement tips the scale on this deal in favor of consumers and the public,” said Governor Rendell. “First and foremost, it includes a five-year commitment that will keep hundreds of jobs in Westmoreland County. That’s significant because Pennsylvania simply cannot afford to lose as many as 980 well-paying jobs.”
Additionally, the settlement includes provisions that will account for an approximately $10 million in clean, renewable energy technologies, including contributions to the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy fund, Keystone HELP and Pennsylvania Sunshine solar programs. The settlement also calls for long-term contracts for solar photovoltaic alternative energy credit purchases between 2011 and 2021.
The merged company will also take a number of actions to help consumers save money, conserve energy and make informed decisions about their energy consumptions.
The settlement calls for about $11 million in customer credits for West Penn Power residential customers over three years, as well as a freeze on the company seeking distribution rate increases through Oct. 1, 2012 for Pennsylvania customers in the Met-Ed, Penelec and Penn Power service territories.
First Energy and Allegheny Energy also agree to expedite the deployment of smart meters to customers, so that 90 percent of all accounts will have the technology in use by 2019. Smart meters enable customers to see how much they’re paying for electricity and monitor their energy consumption, helping them to reduce usage when rates are most expensive. The company must also institute programs and dedicate staff to help consumers conserve energy and encourage retail shopping among competitive suppliers.
Rendell signed Act 129 in 2008 to institute aggressive energy conservation and efficiency measures, including requiring smart meter deployment within 15 years to all customers in Pennsylvania and multiple rate plans, as well as ambitious targets to reduce total demand on the grid. Combined, the measures in Act 129 are expected to save Pennsylvania’s consumers $263 million in both 2011 and 2012, and $533 million in 2013 and every year thereafter.