The District government is quietly shopping a settlement with Pepco and Exelon over the planned merger between the power companies, according to people who have seen the tentative agreement.

The deal wouldn’t mean a clear path for the multi-billion dollar deal, initially quashed in August by the Public Service Commission. But winning approval from Muriel Bowser‘s government would help Pepco and Exelon argue on appeal that the PSC should reconsider its denial.

On Friday, Bowser officials shared the tentative agreement with other groups who had intervened in the proposed merger. Details are sketchy—two people who talked to LL said they were sworn to confidentiality—but Bloomberg reports that the deal includes an Exelon headquarters in the District and more consumer credits.

Robert Robinson, president of the Grid 2.0 Working Group, says he saw the tentative deal in his role as an intervenor in the merger. While Robinson thinks the District got a better deal from Exelon and Pepco because of Bowser’s earlier public opposition to the merger, he still says it represents an “about-face” that doesn’t address the aging electrical grid.

“We’re going to get locked into a deal of economic slavery, of continuing to pay higher and higher prices,” Robinson says.

On Friday, two senior Bowser administration officials denied that negotiations were over. Bowser spokesman Michael Czin wrote in an email Friday that the city was “still negotiating.”

On Friday night, Ward 3 Councilmember and merger foe Mary Cheh got in a heated discussion with District Department of the Environment chief Tommy Wells, who has been involved in the negotiations. After talking to Wells, Cheh declared that the Bowser administration were “cowards” for cutting the tentative deal.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery