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State attorney general withdraws objection to utility deal

May 23, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island ratepayers should expect about $200 million in benefits under an agreement clearing the way for the state’s main electricity and gas provider to be sold to a Pennsylvania-based corporation, state Attorney General Peter Neronha said Monday.

Neronha’s office said it dropped its objection to the PPL Corporation’s purchase of the Narragansett Electric Company, which serves around 780,000 customers in Rhode Island.

The state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers had approved the $3.8 billion deal in February, but Neronha’s office put it on hold over concerns PPL hadn’t made assurances the deal would not lead to a degradation in services or rate increases.

Neronha’s office said Monday it approved the sale in exchange for the millions of dollars in benefits to ratepayers, as well as mandated steps PPL must take to advance goals in Rhode Island law tackling climate change, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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PPL must contribute $2.5 million to the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Fund and up to $2.5 million to retain outside experts in anticipated energy proceedings that will directly impact the state’s climate goals, Neronha said.

Neronha also said the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers had failed to take steps to ensure that storm responses wouldn’t worsen under PPL ownership. In the agreement, he required PPL to ensure that Massachusetts-based storm response crews are contractually obligated to help Rhode Island before other states in a storm event.