The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has given preliminary approval to a plan for Hartford-based Northeast Utilities, to merge with Boston-based NSTAR.

The draft decision signs off on an agreement reached between the two companies, the state attorney general, and the state consumer counsel.

In a written statement, state Deparment of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty praises the draft decision as bringing relief to ratepayers, providing funding for renewable energy, and strenthening the electric grid.  If the two companies merge, they would create a firm worth more than 17-billion dollars. Northeast Utilities provides electricity to about 1.2-million homes and businesses.

The final decision is expected to be announced next week.


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