Philadelphia Gas Commission staff balks at lobbying, PR costs

Philadelphia Gas Works’ rate-payers should pay for lawyers and financial experts, but not for lobbyists or communications specialists involved in the city’s effort to sell PGW, the staff of the Philadelphia Gas Commission recommends.

The city is investigating whether to sell the city-owned gas works to a private buyer, and wants PGW itself to pay about $2.3 million in consultant costs associated with the effort.After much debate and study, the staff of the Gas Commission has recommended that PGW go ahead and pay for most of that, including a little over $2 million for legal and financial advisors.

But the staff recommended that the commission refuse to fund PR and lobbying services worth about $227,000, saying they weren’t appropriate expenses. Commision members have noted that since the city owns PGW, hiring a firm to lobby City Council for approval would amount to paying to influence its owners.

Some critics of the plan have argued that the city stands to benefit by selling off PGW, it and not gas customers should pay the entire bill.

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The five-member commission meets January 16 to decide if they agree.


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