Clarke: No Approval for PGW Sale

Nutter: "Biggest cop-out in legislative history." Committee of 70: "Disgraceful and cowardly."

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia City Council will not approve the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to a private buyer, Council President Darrell Clarke announced today. The council also issued a public statement on the matter.

KYW reports:

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.

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.

Wall Street Journal reports the council’s move “denies Mayor Michael Nutter one of his top priorities”:

The council said an outside consultant it hired found that the city would net $200 million to $400 million, far less than the $400 million to $600 million cited by the Nutter administration. Council officials noted other concerns as well, such as the lack of a guarantee that rates would stay “reasonably affordable” after a promised three-year rate freeze.

Mayor Nutter was expected to comment on the matter at 5 p.m. He had proposed selling the gas utility to Connecticut-based UIL Holdings for $1.86 billion, and using the profits to shore up the city’s underfunded pensions. He and other critics had complained in recent weeks of the council’s apparent foot-dragging on the the issue.

[Update] Nutter is making comments on the issue at this hour:

The Committee of Seventy is calling the move “cowardly and an affront to city taxpayers”:

“Today’s action violates every principle of transparent and effective governance,” said Ellen Kaplan, Seventy’s Interim President and CEO in a statement. “Issuing a statement declaring that the risks outweigh the benefits, without allowing questions from the citizens they represent in a public forum, is disgraceful and cowardly.”