UIL Holdings Corp. announced Wednesday that it would stay in the hunt to buy Philadelphia Gas Works, despite passage of a deadline that allows it to pull the plug on the $1.86 billion deal.
"We have decided to continue our efforts to pursue this acquisition and become a new business partner in the city of Philadelphia," James P. Torgerson, UIL's president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Under UIL's purchase agreement, signed March 3, it has the option of exiting the deal after midnight Tuesday if City Council has not approved the sale. Council has not yet held hearings on the proposed privatization while it awaits the results of two studies on the sale that it has commissioned from Concentric Energy Advisors.
"UIL remains ready to assist Council in its assessment of the sale, including the essential public dialogue of what we believe is a valuable economic opportunity for the city of Philadelphia," Torgerson said in his statement.
He said the New Haven, Conn., company "will continue to evaluate the situation and take additional actions as appropriate."
Mayor Nutter has proposed selling the utility and using the profits from the sale, projected to be at least $422 million, to go toward the city's underfunded pension system.
The mayor praised UIL in a statement and said his administration looked forward to presenting its case for selling PGW.
"Philadelphians have an absolute right to know the basic details of the transaction and how it will impact them as consumers and also how it will affect the dedicated workforce and retirees of PGW, the fiscal impact on city government and its pension fund, and the city's economy," Nutter said in a statement.
Darrell L. Clarke, the council president, noted that the July 15 deadline was imposed upon Council by the administration.
"While the press has largely been fixated on outside forces such as lobbyists that are pressuring City Council to fast-forward the review process, we in City Council answer to other special interests, namely, the households directly impacted by privatization of PGW and the hard-working men and women of PGW, who have made this utility the prized asset it is today," he said in a statement.
The sale is opposed by PGW's union, low-income advocates, and several environmental groups. Food & Water Watch on Wednesday called on Council to "remain firm in its opposition to privatization."