Unitil Corp. filed settlement agreements with the utility regulators in Maine and New Hampshire for the company’s proposed acquisition of Northern Utilities Inc., it said Wednesday. Final orders are anticipated in both states by Oct. 1.
In February Unitil agreed to purchase Northern Utilities and Granite State Gas Transmission Inc. from NiSource Inc. for $160 million plus an estimated $25 million for natural gas storage inventory and other working capital items (see Daily GPI, Feb. 20).
“These settlements provide a fair and appropriate framework and a predictable regulatory road map for Unitil’s new gas distribution businesses in Maine and New Hampshire, and we look forward to timely approval, closing and transition,” said Unitil CFO Mark H. Collin.
Northern Utilities is a natural gas distribution utility serving 52,000 customers in 44 communities in Maine and New Hampshire. Northern has 78 full-time employees. Granite’s operations consist of 86 miles of federally regulated gas transmission pipeline, primarily in Maine and New Hampshire. Granite’s principal business is delivering gas transportation services to Northern and providing access to interstate gas pipeline supplies. Upon consummation of the transaction, both Northern and Granite would become wholly owned subsidiaries of Unitil Corp.
The agreements were separately negotiated and filed in each state but reflect a number of common features. They include commitments by Unitil with respect to Northern’s rates, customer service and operations during and after the transition of Northern’s management and business operations from NiSource to Unitil. Northern will implement enhanced safety and reliability programs and upgrade customer service quality programs in both states. Unitil will also conduct a study in collaboration with parties in both states of potential changes in organization or regulation of Granite State.
The Office of the Consumer Advocate in New Hampshire and the Office of Public Advocate in Maine are among the settling parties. The settlement agreements recommend that the respective commissions approve Unitil’s acquisition of Northern because it is consistent with the public interest.
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