Great Plains, Westar strike merger settlement with Missouri PSC staff
Great Plains Energy has reached an agreement with staff members of the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC), clearing the way for its $12.2 billion acquisition of Westar Energy.
Great Plains had contended the PSC had no jurisdiction over the merger, but commission staff were critical of the deal earlier this year, calling it "detrimental to the public interest." Great Plains operates in Missouri, while Westar serves customers in neighboring Kansas.
Under the settlement, the PSC would not exert jurisdiction in return for Great Plains’ guarantee that the acquisition would not increase costs or negatively affect service for customers of Great Plains’ subsidiary Kansas City Power and Light.
Since its announcement in May, the Great Plains-Westar merger has attracted its share of controversy.
In August the U.S. Department of Justice launched a review of the proposed merger. Later in August, Kansas regulators allowed four more intervenors into the Westar-Great Plains merger docket, bringing the total to nearly 20.
The settlement in Missouri, though, moves the deal one step closer to approval and success. Great Plains hopes to close the deal by next spring.
Chuck Caisley, a spokesman for Great Plains, told The Kansas City Star the accord with the PSC is “a constructive agreement” that will bring “a greater degree of certainty” to the deal.
About three months ago, the PSC said the deal was “detrimental to the public interest.”
In its recent filing PSC staff said the agreement with Great Plains includes “important protections and safeguards for Missouri ratepayers and avoids the uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation.”
The deal must still be approved by the PSC commissioners in both states.
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