Less, not more, better for New England utilities

By Rob Cox
November 3, 2011

Too many customers of Northeast Utilities lost power for too long after recent storms. As with banks, risk management and regulation failures are to blame. Towns that run their own utilities offer an alternative; meanwhile, Northeast’s planned $4.7 bln deal needs to be torpedoed.

When is a merger-of-equals really a takeover?

By Rob Cox
November 7, 2011

One easy way to tell is when the top brass get rich, undeserved paydays. Take NSTAR’s pending $4.7 billion “merger” with Northeast Utilities. NSTAR’s top five executives could feast on $50 mln of payouts from change of control even though they’ll stay, and even run, the place.

Exclusive: Ditching CEO won’t save US utility deal

By Rob Cox
November 18, 2011

Northeast Utilities parted ways with the head of its biggest division, CL&P, after the utility’s bungled storm response. Investors think that makes the pending $4.7 bln takeover of NSTAR more likely. Not so fast: Connecticut plans to reopen the merger review by hook or by crook.

New England power merger deserves final nixing

By Rob Cox
December 5, 2011

A report on Northeast Utilities’ handling of a snowstorm from a former U.S. disaster official makes it clear: the company failed in the duties that come with its monopoly. Regulators have all the evidence they need to power down the utility’s $4.7 bln takeover of rival NSTAR.

Savvy NRG step may tip scale against utility deal

By Rob Cox
December 16, 2011

’s uncommon to see a supplier try to spoil a marriage between customers. But the U.S. power producer is hoping to break up Northeast Utilities’ $4.7 bln takeover of NSTAR. NRG’s arguments hint at how big and inflexible a utility the deal, if approved, could create.

Connecticut finally steps up to vet utility merger

By Rob Cox
January 18, 2012

More than a year on, the U.S. state reversed its earlier rubber-stamping of Northeast Utilities’ $4.7 bln takeover of NSTAR. It took a couple of storms to expose Northeast’s electrifying incompetence and wake Connecticut’s watchdogs. Now they needn’t be shy of killing the deal.

Monopolies thrive when politicians go short-term

By Rob Cox
March 26, 2012

How else to explain the likely approval of a $17.5 bln New England power merger? Northeast Utilities’ incompetence is proven, but dangling a few politically expedient goodies seems to have won authorities over to its NSTAR takeover. Captive customers may lose, but investors win.

Sandy fiasco reveals investor-customer disconnect

November 7, 2012

The storm that created up to $50 bln of damage across the East Coast left 8 mln customers without power, and ornery. Politicians are hopping mad, too. Yet the market values of the region’s major power utilities barely took a hit. If regulators do their job, that won’t last.