The U.S. Justice Department agreed to let Exelon Corp. carry out its $7.9 billion acquisition of Constellation Energy Group Inc. on condition that Exelon sell three electricity-generating plants in Maryland.

The department announced the agreement today shortly after it filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington alleging the takeover would eliminate competition and lead to an increase in wholesale electricity prices for consumers in Mid-Atlantic states.

“Competition in wholesale electricity markets is vital to the economic well-being of consumers and businesses,” Sharis Pozen, acting assistant attorney general for the department’s antitrust division, said in an e-mailed statement. “These divestitures will preserve that critical competition for the benefit of electricity customers throughout the mid-Atlantic.”

The deal would create the largest U.S. utility owner and power generator.

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