New York OKs Ownership of Central Hudson by Canadian Firm

Finding that the proposed deal will bring “significant, tangible benefits” to jurisdictional ratepayers, the New York Public Service Commission approved the acquisition of CH Energy Group Inc. by Newfoundland-based Fortis Inc. CH Energy Group is the parent company of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, while Fortis is a utilities holding company with numerous subsidiaries and assets throughout Canada, Central America, and the Caribbean. Although local officials and consumer advocacy groups had vehemently opposed the merger, expressing concern that foreign control will adversely affect service quality and rates, the commission deemed such worries overstated. The commission noted that Fortis had consented to numerous rate and performance concessions in order to obtain approval of the transaction.  It rejected the notion that Fortis’s acquisition of Central Hudson would mean that the commission’s authority over the utility would be preempted or diminished because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). From the commission’s perspective, the business rights and opportunities available to Fortis under NAFTA are not so extensive as to represent any credible risk to Central Hudson ratepayers. (Case 12-M-0192, N.Y.P.S.C.). For more analysis, subscribe to URN.