The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's staff have urged the FERC to ignore key portions of a law judge's recommendation that described California Edison's proposed merger with San Diego Gas & Electric as anti-competitive and unlikely to generate economic benefits for Southern California electric utility customers.
In separate filings Thursday with the FERC, both the Justice Department and the FERC staff argued that FERC Administrative Law Judge George P. Lewnes failed to follow Justice Department guidelines in his Nov. 27 recommendation that urged the FERC to prohibit the merger on antitrust grounds.
The Justice Department argued that Lewnes' recommendation was based upon "misperception and misapplication" of the Justice Department's antitrust guidelines. The Justice Department argued that Lewnes also ignored Edison's willingness to incorporate merger conditions that the Justice Department had designed to "address and alleviate" possible antitrust concerns.
Similarly, the FERC staff filing described Lewnes' antitrust concerns as "contrary to accepted antitrust analysis." The FERC staff filing also maintained that the two utilities had proven that the merger would produce economic benefits that would be shared by utility customers in Southern California.