Topeka – In a unanimous decision this afternoon, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) denied the Joint Application of Great Plains Energy, Inc., KCP&L, and Westar, Inc. for approval of the acquisition of Westar Energy by Great Plains Energy. Westar is the largest electric utility in Kansas and combined with KCP&L they would serve approximately 950,000 Kansas customers.
Today’s order can be viewed at: http://estar.kcc.ks.gov/estar/ViewFile.aspx?Id=105231db-6aa0-4a0d-9849-6408429d807a.
The Commission’s central concern is whether the acquisition is in the public interest. The following merger standards were adopted by the Commission in this docket and used for guidance in evaluating the merits of the application. (Note: for your convenience the paragraph in the final order that corresponds to each merger standard is noted in bold.)
a. The effect of the transaction on consumers (Paragraph 67), including:
i. the effect of the proposed transaction on the financial condition of the newly created entity compared to the financial condition of the stand-alone entities if the transaction did not occur (Paragraphs 24-37);
ii. reasonableness of the purchase price, including whether the purchase price was reasonable in light of the demonstrated savings from the merger and whether the purchase price is within a reasonable range (Paragraphs 49-56);
iii. whether ratepayer benefits resulting from the transaction can be quantified (Paragraphs 57-66);
iv. whether there are operational synergies that justify payment of a premium in excess of book value (Paragraphs 49-56); and
v. the effect of the proposed transaction on the existing competition. (Paragraph 69)
b. The effect of the transaction on the environment. (Paragraphs 70-72)
c. Whether the proposed transaction will be beneficial on an overall basis to state and local economies and to communities in the area served by the resulting public utility operations in the state. Whether the proposed transaction will likely create labor dislocations that may be particularly harmful to local communities, or the state generally, and whether measures can be taken to mitigate the harm. (Paragraphs 73-81)
d. Whether the proposed transaction will preserve the Commission’s jurisdiction and capacity to effectively regulate and audit public utility operations in the state. (Paragraph 82)
e. The effect of the transaction on affected public utility shareholders. (Paragraph 83)
f. Whether the transaction maximizes the use of Kansas energy resources. (Paragraphs 84-87)
g. Whether the transaction will reduce the possibility of economic waste. (Paragraphs 84-87)
h. What impact, if any, the transaction has on the public safety. (Paragraphs 87-88)
The application was filed on June 28, 2016. Statutorily the Commission is required to render a decision within 300 days or by April 24th. The parties have the right to file a petition for reconsideration within 15 days of the effective date of the order.