A California Public Utility Commission administrative law judgehas recommended approval of the proposed Pacific Enterprises-EnovaCorp. merger, citing potential savings of $288 million spread overfive years and divided equally between ratepayers and shareholders.

The five-year calculation and distribution of the proposedsavings is likely to cause the two merging companies to appeal tothe full commission that a longer period of up to 10 years beapplied. They need the longer period to increase the total savingsthat will flow back to shareholders to make the proposed $5 billion”merger of equals” deliver its full potential, according to sourcesinvolved in the merger.

A final decision is expected by the end of March. Final federaldecisions from FERC and the Justice Department are expected tofollow shortly thereafter.

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