The state’s utilities regulator recently changed the standard by which it approves mergers of utility companies. The Department of Public Utilities abandoned its long-standing regulatory procedure on the heels of a merger petition by NSTAR Electric and Northeast Utilities in March 2011. The new standard requires utilities to show that by merging they would provide “net benefits” to the public, including to the Commonwealth’s increasingly robust environmental policy. The new standard is appropriate in view of new policy realities. In fact, it has already paid public dividends, as NSTAR and Northeast, in recognition of their obligations under the standard, recently agreed to purchase a substantial amount of clean, renewable energy from Cape Wind, the planned offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
Using utilities regulation to make a greener Commonwealth