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CH Energy CEO and Fortis CFO Discuss Proposed Merger

The proposed merger between Canadian energy company Fortis and Poughkeepsie-based CH Energy Group, parent of Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation has sparked a lot of concern and opposition in the past few months. And now the top executives of each company have embarked on a public relations campaign to try and quell concerns.

Fortis would acquire CH Energy for some $1.5 billion. It’s a deal that germinated more than one year ago, and a transaction both executives thought would have been completed by now. Yet several lawmakers and others have recently voiced much opposition. It is up to the New York State Public Service Commission to decide.

Chairman, president, and CEO of CH Energy Group Steven Lant says he was not looking for CH Energy to be acquired.

One major area of concern focuses on jobs – those of union members with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as well as Central Hudson staff. Here’s Barry Perry, vice president, finance and chief financial officer of Fortis.

And here’s more on the topic from Perry.

Fortis and CH Energy filed with the PSC in January a joint proposal containing $50 million in customer benefits.

Another major area of concern involves rate hikes. CH Energy’s Lant points out there is a one-year freeze on rate hikes as part of the joint proposal.

And some efforts to mitigate rate hikes could come from some of the money set aside within the $50 million in customer benefits.

Two administrative law judges issued a recommended decision May 3, writing that they find it relatively easy to conclude that the benefits of the merger transaction pursuant to the Joint Proposal are outweighed by the detriments. It is an advisory opinion to be considered by the PSC.

Perry says Fortis, with its strong balance sheet and high credit rating would be unaffected, though he likely would continue shopping.

And here’s Lant.

That was Steven Lant, chairman, president and CEO of CH Energy Group; along with Barry Perry, vice president, finance and chief financial officer of Fortis, Inc.

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