For over 20 years, I, along with other elected officials, worked diligently to bring dredging of the Delaware River to our region so that Philadelphia could reap the financial rewards. It is my belief the sale of PGW is similar to the opportunity that dredging brings; the sale of PGW to UIL Holdings would place Philadelphia on the precipice of becoming an energy hub on par with other existing energy centers, such as Houston, Tex.
The decision to sell PGW is more important to our Cityâ€™s future than many may know. After satisfying all of PGWâ€™s debt and pension obligations, the City will receive another $400-$600 million that is specifically targeted for the city-employee pension fund. Over the long term, that cash infusion will free up more city money for other priorities, such as our public schools. Perhaps even more important, UIL will be able to replace our Cityâ€™s underground gas mains more expeditiously than PGW, should they continue to operate.
I was dismayed to learn recently there are efforts underway to attempt to undermine the Cityâ€™s sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings. The sales agreement already reached came as the result of open competition among 33 bidders. The City negotiated the most-advantageous deal possible in terms and sale price and has assured an outcome that will greatly benefit PGW customers and all the citizens of Philadelphia.
As a State Representative fighting for Philadelphia to get its fair share of funding, a PGW sale will be a huge step in showing that the City is doing all it can to get its fiscal house in order.
City Council is awaiting a consultantâ€™s report on the wisdom of the sale. I applaud Council for seeking an objective, expert opinion before voting on this matter, and I sincerely do hope they will schedule a public hearing immediately after receiving the report. It is also my hope this process will go forward without the continuing negative efforts to undermine the sale by the companies not chosen in the bidding process.
(Keller represents the 184th State House Dist. in S. Philadelphia.)