Judge Rules Cleco Sale Not In Public's Interest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A judge has ruled that the proposed $4.9 billion sale of utility provider Cleco Corp. to a consortium of private investment firms would not be in the public's interest.

         The ruling comes a week before the Louisiana Public Service Commission is due to vote on the proposed sale. The deal has been blasted by citizens' groups and some public officials, who warn that the sale would end up costing consumers.

         On Wednesday, Administrative Law Judge Valerie Seal Meiners issued her ruling and said the purchase of Cleco Corp. by three investment firms, collectively known as Cleco Partners, would bring financial risks to Cleco and its ratepayers.

         There are about 284,000 Cleco customers in Louisiana.

         In a statement, Cleco said it remained hopeful the commission would vote to approve the deal.



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