PGW sale debated on ‘Radio Times’

Philadelphia Gas Works offices on Broad Street in South Philadelphia (Nathaniel Hamilton for WHYY)

Philadelphia Gas Works offices on Broad Street in South Philadelphia (Nathaniel Hamilton for WHYY)

Ahead of public hearings next week on the future of Philadelphia Gas Works, the proposed sale of the aging city utility for $1.86 billion sparked heated debate on WHYY’s “Radio Times” Friday.

Mayor Michael Nutter said the deal is not dead, but acknowledges it could be on life support.

“Radio Times” host Marty Moss-Coane asked Nutter why he hasn’t been able to find a sponsor in City Council for the bill to sell PGW to UIL Holdings Corp.

“Don’t you have a friend there?” she said.

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“I think this is not about friendship,” Nutter responded. “The body is a unique entity, and I think because the City Council President Darrell Clarke, who I respect a great deal, has taken the lead on this, I think members are exercising their respect for the president and the process.”

Nutter, adding that the deal is not dead, said he hopes a bill will be introduced and proper hearings will be held.

“Active, rigorous debate should be had and engaged in,” he said. “We then have to make a case, and others will come in and make their case — at least there’s a full opportunity for citizens, for workers, for customers, for businesspeople and other interested stakeholders to hear all of the information.”

Councilwoman Marian Tasco insisted the mayor did not involve Council in the process before announcing the agreement to sell PGW to UIL Holdings.

“This was a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ process, no matter what the mayor says,” she said. “He’s full of malarkey, as he usually is, and there was no process for Council to be involved.”

Hearings have not been held because Council members didn’t want them, she said.

“You waste your time having a hearing when you know Council is not going to vote for it, and then you go around and harass Council members to vote for the bill,” Tasco said. “You don’t need all of that.”

The bill providing for a sale could be introduced and, theoretically, voted out before the end of the year. So far,  however, not a single member of Council has indicated a plan to do so.


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