The District’s Public Service Commission denied Exelon’s takeover of Pepco this morning, blocking the purchase by the Chicago-based utility of the District’s only local power company.

Four other public service commissions on the East Coast had already approved the deal, leaving the District as the final hurdle. The PSC voted 2-1 against the takeover, with commissioners opposed to the deal citing the lack of a settlement between the utilities and their critics as one of the reasons to oppose it.

As the outcome of the hearing became clear, takeover opponents yelled out in delight, forcing commissioners to gavel the meeting to order.

Commissioner Willie L. Phillips voted against a motion to reject the merger, citing the possibility of benefits that could have been gained from Exelon with a modified merger agreement. But that wasn’t enough to convince commissioners Joanne Doddy Fort and Betty Ann Kane, who were concerned that the purchase would make Pepco less able to adapt as part of a corporate bureaucracy.

“This decision is one of the most significant decisions that the commission will ever make,” Kane said.

Pepco and Exelon now have 30 days to file an appeal.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery