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Westar merger with Great Plains Energy denied

The Kansas Corporation Commission has denied Kansas City, Missouri-based Great Plains Energy's request to acquire Topeka-based Westar Energy, ending a nearly two-month long process.

 

Commissioners cited several reasons Wednesday for the denial, most notably the pricetag of $12.2 billion which it said was too high to service the acquisition-related debt. It questioned whether Great Plains Energy would come out financially stronger after the transaction occurred than if the two entities were allowed to stand on their own.

Also in question was the prospect of rate increases. The commission said the utility wasn't promising to reduce rates under the merger but rather it would request lower rates if the transaction was approved. Great Plains Energy had said the deal would have saved $2 billion over the next decade.

The commission also said there was no guarantee that jobs in Kansas wouldn't be lost, given the geographic proximity of the service territories, making it easier for maintenance crews to cover both territories.

Westar officials say it will be up to the companies to decide what the next course of action will be. Westar is the largest electric utility in Kansas.