Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation
|Home | Contact Us | News | FAQ||
Site Map |
MPUC Approves Sale Of Northern Utilities To UNITIL
New Hampshire Company agrees to safety improvements
October 6, 2008
Augusta, ME –- The Maine Public Utilities Commission today approved the purchase of Northern Utilities Inc., a subsidiary of NiSource, by the Unitil Corporation. As part of the merger, Unitil agreed to freeze base rates in Maine for two years, and to pass on to consumers any “synergy” savings created by the companies’ merger.
“This merger is in the interest of both consumers and investors,” said Sharon M. Reishus, who chairs the MPUC. “It includes an important new discount rate for low-income Mainers as they prepare for a difficult winter season.” The 30% discount will apply to Mainers eligible for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The approval comes at the same time as the Commission assessed $2 million in penalties against Northern for several serious safety incidents dating to 2007 and earlier.
The penalties include $1.2 million to be invested directly in safety improvements to the company’s Maine systems, and an $800,000 penalty to be paid to the Commission.
“We expect Unitil to follow through on its commitment to address safety issues the Commission identified with Northern,” Reishus said. “The new owners are showing appropriate interest in improved safety and management practices."
Chairman Reishus noted that the penalties and compliance costs must be paid entirely by company shareholders. “None of that money may be recovered from consumers,” Reishus said.
Unitil will purchase Northern Utilities and a related NiSource company, Granite State Transmission of New Hampshire, for a total of $160 million plus an estimated $25 million for natural gas inventories.
Northern provides natural gas to 42,000 customers in Maine and New Hampshire. Unitil is a public utility holding company that serves electric and gas services to 115,000 customers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. NiSource Inc. serves 3.8 million customers from the Gulf Coast to New England.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Chairman Reishus, contact Fred Bever at 207-287-6141 or email Fred.Bever@maine.gov.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission is committed to ensuring that consumers have access to safe and reliable service for public utilities and that the rates for these utilities are just and reasonable. MPUC programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service, Dig Safe, and Efficiency Maine.
|Copyright © 2008 All rights reserved.|