WNPR

Avangrid Taking Over From United Illuminating

Jan 8, 2016

Customers of United Illuminating will soon be getting used to the Avangrid name at the top of their bills.

Avangrid is the new company formed by Spanish utility giant Iberdrola, which last month closed on the purchase of UI, after lengthy scrutiny by state regulators.

The CEO of UI, James Torgerson, will also head up the new entity. He told WNPR’s Where We Live that the parent company will give Avangrid more financial stability, and a greater potential for investment in new technologies.

"Being part of a much larger company is a great benefit," Torgerson said. "It gives us greater stability, we have a much better balance sheet now. UI itself had 50 percent debt. The company we have now with Avangrid -- we have less than 30 percent debt for the entire company."

The merger was actually rejected initially by Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority, which asked the companies to come up with a better deal.

PURA Chairman Arthur House said the future is hard to predict, but PURA’s job is to ensure that the merger meets legal criteria.

"You have a brand new company of control, Iberdrola. What is their corporate culture? What kind of people are they going to hire and promote? What will their interest in the community be?" House said. "But this gets to the core of what PURA does. It made sense in the sense that it met the law. That's as far as we go. Do the facts meet the law? Did they do what they had to do to receive our approval."

Avangrid has more than three million customers in New England and New York State.