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Philadelphia City Council Pulls Plug on PGW Privatization Deal

By Mike Dunn and Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke today notified the Nutter administration that City Council will not be endorsing the sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works to a private owner, effectively killing the deal.

The deal needed City Council approval, but the legislation was never introduced, nor hearings scheduled.


pgw 16x9 Philadelphia Gas Works
A PGW payment office in center city Philadelphia. (File photo by Andre Bennett)


Today, Council President Clarke sent a letter to the mayor stating that Council will not endorse the proposed $1.86-billion sale of PGW to UIL Holdings, a utility company based in Connecticut.

Clarke, flanked by seven other council members, stood in Council chambers today to announce the lawmakers will not approve the plan.

"The simple reality is that there is no appetite to sell PGW as proposed by that specific, very specific proposal," Clarke said.

UIL has had, since June, the ability to opt out of the deal but had expressed a willingness to wait for a City Council decision.

Clarke had, weeks ago, promised details on Council's timeline for the debate by mid-October.  No such timeline ever emerged, and Clarke last week said his staff's internal review of the plan -- and of reports by consultants hired by Council -- was continuing.

As KYW's Mike DeNardo reports, Mayor Nutter slammed Council for deciding the PGW sale was dead without holding hearings or putting the issue to a public vote.

"(What) the Council president announced today, in my view, is a complete abdication of duty and responsibility. It is the opposite of transparency," Nutter said.

Nutter said the biggest issues of our time, from building above William Penn's hat to locating the ballpark, have all been debated in public. He said Council's decision to scrap the PGW sale without debate, was not a shining moment of leadership in Philadelphia.

The mayor had said that one-quarter of the proceeds from the sale of PGW would be used to shore up the struggling city workers' pension fund.   Opponents had said putting the utility in private hands could subject residents to more frequent rate hikes and endanger relief programs.

City Council says it will schedule broad hearings on what they call "the highest and best use" of PGW.

A spokesman for UIL Holdings said the firm is surprised and disappointed by Council's decision not to move forward with hearings and a vote.


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