Regulators to meet on Westar-Great Plains merger
photo by: Westar Energy
TOPEKA — Kansas utility regulators have called a special meeting for Thursday to consider and possibly act on a proposed merger between Topeka-based Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light.
The Kansas Corporation Commission will meet at 3:30 p.m. at the agency’s headquarters in Topeka.
In May 2017, the KCC rejected a proposed merger whereby Great Plains would have acquired Westar for an estimated $12.2 billion. Commissioners said at the time that the proposed deal was too expensive and would have resulted in substantial job losses, threatening the ability of the combined company to provide reliable service.
The companies describe their new proposal, which they formally submitted in August, as a “stock-for-stock merger of equals” in which Westar and KCP&L would become wholly owned subsidiaries of a new parent company with a combined equity value of about $14 billion and serving 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri.
In March, staff of the KCC and the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, or CURB, which represents consumers in utility rate cases, reached a settlement with the two companies that imposes a number of conditions on the merger.
One of those conditions is that if the deal is approved, Westar would make one-time bill credits to its customers totaling $23 million, and KCP&L would give its customers bill credits totaling $7.5 million.
The settlement also states that there will be no involuntary layoffs as a result of the merger, and that employees will receive pay and benefit packages comparable to what they receive now.
Both CURB and the KCC staff are recommending the three-member commission approve the settlement.