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Nutter Hopes For Public Hearings On $2 Billion PGW Sale When City Council Opens Fall Session

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- City Council opens its Fall session next week, and Mayor Nutter is hoping that the lawmakers launch their public review of his plan to sell PGW for nearly two billion dollars.

City Council has yet to introduce the Mayor's PGW sale legislation nor to schedule public hearings. Council President Darrell Clarke has said those won't come until Concentric -- the consultant hired by Council to review the plan -- has finished its reports.

That is expected to happen this month, and once the findings are known, Mayor Nutter says he hopes to see Council's public hearings begin.

"I would certainly hope that we could see a few things happen over the course of the next few weeks: first and foremost, the release of the Concentric report," he said. "Obviously after that we'd like to see the introduction of the necessary legislation, and obviously a schedule of proposed hearings, so that we can have a full public engagement, discussion, debate about what I think is the best offer put forward."

And Nutter said he hopes that Council casts a final vote on the proposed sale by year's end. "We have a few months. But absolutely I would also like to see final action, positive action on a (PGW) bill before the end of the year. That would be my hope," he said.

Nutter wants to sell PGW to the Connecticut-based UIL Holdings for just under two billion dollars. He says the net proceeds -- about $500 million -- would be used to shore up the underfunded city workers' pension.

Council President Clarke has said that since this is the biggest financial transaction in the city's history, it is crucial that council members proceed at a deliberate pace.

Concentric, Council's consultant, is studying both UIL's winning bid and the larger question of whether a sale should take place. The sale would also require approve of the state Public Utility Commission.

Two months ago UIL officials decided -- for now -- not to exercise an option to drop out of the deal because Council has yet to consider it.

At the time the firm said it was not bothered by the pace of Council's deliberations. "Certainly we didn't think it would be a small or simple process going in, given the fact that it's a municipal-owned system," said a UIL spokesman.

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