Great Plains Energy sought Monday to rescue its proposal to buy Westar Energy, Kansas’ largest electric company, amid strong criticism that the $12.2 billion deal is too rich and would create a larger but financially weakened firm with consumers on the hook for its problems.
An attorney representing Great Plains, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light, and Westar told the Kansas Corporation Commission that the proposed deal would create nearly $2 billion in efficiencies over the next decade to keep consumers’ rates in check. Attorney Rob Hack said the acquisition provides significant long-term benefits.
The three-member commission regulates utilities in Kansas and must approve the deal. Its own staff, consumer advocates and other parties strongly oppose the acquisition, which would create a single utility straddling both sides of the Kansas City metropolitan area, with 1.5 million customers from central Kansas to central Missouri.
The companies announced Kansas City-based Great Plains’ proposed purchase of Topeka-based Westar in May 2016, and the two companies’ stockholders overwhelmingly approved the deal in September. But criticism from the KCC’s staff, consumer advocates and other parties has intensified in recent months, as the commission’s hearings have approached.
Read more: Kansas City Star