By Boston Business Journal

Shareholders of NStar (NYSE:NST) will be asked to approve the proposed merger with Northeast Utilities (NYSE: NU) at a special meeting March 4, according to a regulatory filing.

Boston-based NStar and Hartford-based Northeast Utilities announced the merger plan in October, which would create a company with an enterprise value of $17.5 billion.

Approval of the merger requires the affirmative vote of twoâ¿¿thirds of NSTARâ¿¿s outstanding common shares, according the filing Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

NStar said in the filing that the merger is good for shareholders ⿿because it enhances the company⿿s ability to improve returns to shareholders and it provides a more diverse and better⿿balanced earnings profile than the company can achieve on a stand⿿alone basis.⿝ NSTAR shareholders would receive about 1.3 shares of Northeast Utilities for each share of NSTAR they hold immediately prior to the effective time of the merger.

The combined company, which would take the Northeast Utilities name, would supply 3.5 million customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. On Wednesday, the state Department of Public Utilities will hold the one planned public hearing on the merger.

Last month, outgoing Patrick Administration energy chief Ian Bowles said utilities that hope to merge should get a tougher standard of review than in the past. In an interview, Bowles said utility regulators should question whether mergers should be approved if the combined company wouldnâ¿¿t help the state to meet renewable energy goals.

The comments came as Boston-based Cape Wind Associates â¿¿ developer of Cape Wind, the proposed offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound â¿¿ seeks to find a buyer for the remaining 50 percent of the projectâ¿¿s power. Utility National Grid has been approved by the DPU to buy half of the power, but NStar has said itâ¿¿s not interested in Cape Wind.

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