PSC orders Great Plains to file application in merger case

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Service Commission on Wednesday ordered Great Plains Energy Incorporated (GPE) to file an application seeking the commission’s approval of a merger between GPE and Westar Energy, Inc. 

The order stems from a complaint filed by the Midwest Energy Consumers Group (MECG) against GPE, which alleged that GPE violated a PSC order from 2001. In that order concerning the restructuring of Kansas City Power and Light – and the creation of GPE – it was agreed that the company would not acquire or merge with any public utility or affiliate unless they received approval from the PSC.

GPE did not seek approval in their efforts to acquire Westar Energy.

The commission voted 5-0 to order the company to file the merger application no later than March 4, 2017, as the proposed merger had been intended to be completed sometime this spring.

“The purpose of this decision is not to impede GPE’s potential merger,” the Commission said. “The parties requested an expeditious determination on the complaint. For this reason, the Commission will allow this order to become effective in less than thirty days.  This will allow time for GPE to make the necessary filing, and after proper notice is given, a hearing can be held promptly.”

The PSC also acted on several other items during the Wednesday agenda meeting.

The commission approved Ameren’s request to suspend the tariffs for their pilot program to install and operate electric vehicle charging stations in their service area. Ameren asked for an extension as their tariff was suspended for a hearing in October 2016. The PSC has granted them three more months to file their final briefs.

The commission also approved and closed a case concerning a natural gas explosion and fire that happened in Oakville on December 14, 2015. The PSC said that staff had reviewed the case and made recommendations to Laclede Gas, which the company had complied with.

The commission also signed off on an order opening an investigation into Laclede’s compliance with the gas supply documentation requirements of its Cost Allocation Manual (CAM) and its Standards of Conduct. The staff is required to submit a progress report to the PSC no later than Aug. 22, 2017.

The PSC also approved Empire District’s request to expedite their tariff revisions. The company filed revised tariffs on February 14, 2017, to amend its cogeneration and net metering tariffs, but staff found errors. Empire has since revised those issues, and request the changes to be implemented as soon as possible. The PSC approved that 5-0.

The commission’s final order concerned changes to the rules as related to natural gas safety. The federal pipeline safety regulations require states to comply with certain stipulations in order to receive federal grants, so the changes here simply amend the statutes to comply with the language required. The commission signed off on three revisions, sending them to the Secretary of State’s office for review.

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