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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Environmental Group Seeks To Protect NU-Owned Lands In Merger

Nearly a dozen New Haven area parcels of land are part of a vast amount of open space owned by Northeast Utilities that a statewide environmental group is trying to protect by becoming an intervenor in an upcoming hearing on the utility's proposed merger the company with Boston-based NStar.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment is asking the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) for the designation. Being designated as an intervenor would give the group “the right to fully participate in the merger hearings,” which begin Tuesday, said Dennis Schain, a spokesman for PURA.

CFE is seeking intervenor status because the group wants to be sure that 9,500 acres of open space owned by NU statewide will be protected.

“We are not opposing the proposed merger between Northeast Utilities and NStar,” said Curt Johnson, program director for CFE. “However, if the merger occurs, there will be a change in management at NU, which could have a negative impact on the company’s land stewardship policies.”

Johnson, shown at left in a photo with Senator Joe Lieberman, said CFE is seeking to extend a memorandum of understanding between NU and the state that was reached in the aftermath of the company’s failed merger attempt with New York City-based Consolidated Edison.

That agreement is set to expire in two years and protects nearly 375 parcels of land that have been identified as having a high value for recreation or natural resource conservation, he said. Among the parcels of land included in that agreement are:

- 41 acres in Clinton.
- 9.5 acres in Hamden.
- Three parcels in Oxford near the Stevenson Dam totaling 65 acres.
- Several parcels in Wallingford covering 89 acres.
- 16 acres in Woodbridge.

The largest single tract of land that NU owns which is covered by the agreement is 854 acres in Middletown, Johnson said.

The memorandum of understanding gives towns and land trusts the right of first refusal should NU try to sell these properties.

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