Spanish Conglomerate Is Buying New England Gas Utilities

Local businesses contribute to the economies in their regions with jobs, community involvement and support for local charities. International conglomerates, meanwhile, come looking for profits that they can ship to overseas investors.

As Connecticut residents choose their energy providers, they might soon be relying on an international conglomerate with a history of fraud if they opt for natural gas, according to an article in the New Haven Register. The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) yesterday approved the sale of several Connecticut natural gas utilities to Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.

The Hartford Courant reported recently that Iberdrola has had five recent cases of fraud and corruption around the world, with millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions in proposed fines and a worldwide ban on World Bank financing. “The violations include a bribery finding in Iberdrola’s successful effort to win contracts for two power plants in Latvia in 2004 through 2008, which was decided by Latvian courts in December,” The Courant wrote. “There’s also a fraud finding, with an agreement reached in May, in which Iberdrola failed to tell the World Bank about its employment relationship with an agent in a power plant deal in Albania.”

The conglomerate would purchase New Haven-based UIL Holdings Corp., which is the parent company of United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas. UIL also owns Berkshire Gas in Massachusetts, and the deal also required approval by Massachusetts utility regulators. Iberdrola’s American subsidiaries are Central Maine Power Co., Maine Natural Gas Corp., New York State Electric & Gas Corp., and Rochester Gas and Electric Corp.

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