- Citing an agreement made eight years ago during its acquisition of Aquila Inc., staff of the Missouri Public Service Commission say they will need to approve Great Plains Energy's proposed acquisition Westar Energy, the largest electricity provider in Kansas.
- Attorneys for Great Plains argue that the agreement pertained only to utilities regulated by Missouri, while Westar operates only in Kansas.
- If the deal were to close, Great Plains, which owns Kansas City Power & Light, would serve more than 1.5 million customers in the two states and possess over 13 GW of total generation.
In 2001, Great Plains acquired Aquila Inc. in Missouri, and in gaining approval for the deal agreed to consult with regulators in that state before acquiring another utility or affiliate of one. A decade and a half later, staff of the MPSC have filed a petition asserting the company will need its approval to acquire Westar Energy.
But according to Great Plains, because Westar operates only in Kansas that agreement does not impact its deal. The Kansas City Star digs into the company's response, which argues that “staff’s interpretation would expand the commission’s jurisdiction to non-Missouri regulated public utilities, and grant the commission extraterritorial powers never contemplated by Missouri law."
Great Plains' $6.8 billion bid for Westar is the largest deal announced so far this year, and is part of a growing trend of consolidation as utilities seek to shore up revenues.
In their announcement, Great Plains said it would need approval from shareholders and the Kansas Corporation Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company did not mention Missouri regulators, and said it expects the deal to close in the spring of 2017.
Westar operates 7.2 GW of electricity generation, about 41% of which is coal-fired power, 30% gas and 22% renewables. Great Plains operates 6.4 GW of generation through its Kansas City Power & Light subsidiary. In 2015, it generated 74% of its electricity from coal, 16% from nuclear, 8% from wind, and 1% each from hydro power and combined gas and oil.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said the Missouri regulators approved KCP&L's acquisition of Aquila in 2001. That is incorrect, and the article has been since updated to reflect the correct date.