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Northeast Utilities settles with Connecticut on NStar buy

SAN FRANCISCO - Northeast Utilities agreed to freeze rates until Dec. 1, 2014, and spend $300 million on reliability improvements to win support from Connecticut officials for its $5.05 billion purchase of NStar.

“The agreement we’re announcing today does many things, but most importantly it will ensure that distribution rates for our consumers will stay flat for two and a half years, providing some much needed relief for residents,’’ Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said in a press release Tuesday.

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The settlement is between the companies, the governor, the state attorney general, and consumer counsel. It needs approval from the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. The Connecticut regulator decided in January it would review the takeover after an October snowstorm cut power to Northeast Utilities’ customers in the state, some for more than a week.

Northeast Utilities, based in Springfield, Mass., and run from Hartford, agreed to buy Boston-based NStar in October 2010 to create New England’s largest utility owner. Final regulatory approval for the transaction is pending in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, the last needed to close the deal.

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