by Stephen Koranda, Kansas Public Radio
Kansas regulators Wednesday blocked the $12 billion purchase of Topeka-based Westar Energy by Great Plains Energy.
Members of the Kansas Corporation Commission had concerns that the purchase price was too high and that the merger wouldn’t create enough efficiencies to guarantee lower costs to customers.
The order from the three-member commission called the proposal “too risky.”
Westar is the largest electric utility in Kansas, and Missouri-based Great Plains Energy is parent company of Kansas City Power and Light. If the merger moved forward, the combined companies would have 950,000 customers in Kansas.
David Nickel of the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, which represents consumers, said the only testimony in favor of the merger came from the two companies.
“It didn’t make economic sense, and it really put the ratepayer at risk for anything that might go wrong,” Nickel said.
The companies have 15 days to appeal the decision. Gina Penzig, a Westar spokewoman, said they haven’t decided if they’ll continue to pursue the merger.
“We think that it was good for Kansas. We think that it was going to bring a lot of benefits to customers,” she said. “We’re going to sit down, we’re going to take a look at the order and determine what the next steps are.”
Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service.