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A Very Exelon Week

By Matt Wood in News on Jan 25, 2007 1:02PM

chicagoist_200701_exelon.gifA few news items about ComEd and its parent company Exelon managed to poke their heads through the noise of Super Bowl Hype Week I. No, they're not freezing rates again (not until something else freezes over), but here's what everyone's favorite utility behemoth was up to this week:

  • Exelon reported about half a billion in profits for the last quarter, netting $592 million. That's a huge improvement over last year, when they reported a loss of $837 million after they were dinged with a $1.21 billion charge for asset impairment.

  • That money must be burning a hole in CEO John Rowe's pocket, because Exelon has been mentioned as a possible buyer for Nipsco, the Indiana subsidiary of NiSource, the gas company. But before you get your trust-busting panties in a knot, that may not happen. Rowe says Exelon wants to spend big on another utility that is about $8 to 10 billion, or 20-25 percent of Exelon's market value. Nipsco is valued at a piddling $4 billion, and may likely go to bargain-shoppers Duke Energy.

  • About those ComEd rate hikes: CEO Frank Clark says he's happy to talk to legislators about easing into that 24 percent jump, but he's still going to get the full amount eventually. State Sen. James Clayborne is trying to referee the spat between Senate President Emil Jones and state House Speaker Michael Madigan over competing views on the hike by organizing talks with the two camps, ComEd, and consumer advocates like CUB. Madigan wants to freeze rates for another three years, and Jones is pushing for gradual increases. Clark says ComEd's past the point of no return and can't break contracts to purchase energy at the new rates set after the power auction last year, even though 35 percent of it will be supplied by Exelon itself.