Friday, September 15, 2006

PSEG gets no respect in the non-merger

Less than a day after Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group called off their long-planned merger, Exelon stocks are inching up, while PSEG is falling.

Why? According to CNBC, PSEG's nukes, including the embattled Salem and Hope Creek, have started to "perform better" since Exelon took over their management in anticipation of the merger. Now, Wall Street worries that the plants will backslide into ill-managed infamy, and investors are taking it out on PSEG.

Here's the funny part -- unless you're a PSEG investor: Just last evening, a few short hours after word about the scuttled merger hit the wires, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting in Pennsville, New Jersey, to discuss its plans for curtailing its increased safety oversight efforts at Salem and Hope Creek.

In other words, the NRC doesn't see any special safety problems anymore.

And, for a little more irony, consider that the merger's critics cited safety concerns as being among the reasons why they opposed the deal. New Jersey Public Interest Research Group issused a statement in January 2005 saying Exelon's safety record -- not PSEG's -- was one of the main reasons for its concerns.

Said NJ PIRG: "We believe that unless Exelon fixes its safety problems, state regulators should do everything they can to oppose this merger."

-- and --

"Exelon has put profits over safety time and time again."

But, despite the NRC's good news about safety at the plants and the news about the merger, which you'd think they'd view as being good for safety at the plants, NJ PIRG didn't even mention safety in its post-merger comments.

The group told the Asbury Park Press, "This is really just a major victory for consumers across the state who, if this merger did go through...would have been hit with what could have been skyrocketing electricity bills."

(Jeez, NJ PIRG -- you're starting to sound like Exelon, putting profits before safety like that.)

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