JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It’s been a long journey for the merger between Great Plains Energy and Westar, but the two entities will soon be housed under one name: Evergy, Inc.
The two entities’ proposed merger received the final regulatory approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission and the Kansas Corporation Commission in late May, combining the two entities with a stock-for-stock merger of equals creating a holding company of roughly $15 billion in equity.
On June 6, Kansas City Power and Light, owned by Great Plains, tweeted that it was officially their first day as one company, having merged with Westar.
“Now our companies will combine operations, resulting in a stronger regional energy provider,” KCPL said on their website. “Our holding company name has changed to Evergy, Inc. Sometime in 2019, we will transition both companies to the single company name of Evergy.”
Bank of America began coverage on the company shares, issuing a neutral rating on the stock. SunTrust Banks issued a buy rating with a $61 target price, with Evergy opening at $51.32.
The combined company will serve approximately 1.6 million customers, with a little under 1,000,000 in Kansas and 600,000 in Missouri. In addition, the combined company will own, operate and maintain more than 51,000 miles of distribution lines and 13,000 megawatts of generation. The company will employ about 5,000 employees.
“As neighbors, KCP&L and Westar have served customers in Kansas and Missouri for more than 100 years. This merger allows us to be even more efficient as we continue providing excellent customer service while maintaining competitive prices,” said Terry Bassham, chairman and chief executive officer of Great Plains Energy, who will be president and CEO of Evergy. “We appreciate that regulators and shareholders recognize the value in combining the companies.”
The utilities have guaranteed more than $100 million in customer bill credits with $29 million upfront for Missouri customers and $75 million for Kansas customers over the first five years after the merger closes. In addition, once currently pending rate reviews are resolved, the companies have agreed to fix their base rates for up to five years in Kansas as a result of the merger.
“Customers will benefit from bringing together two innovative teams of employees who are active in the communities we serve and take pride in providing excellent customer service. The increased scale and efficiency will deliver savings not possible without the merger,” Bassham said.
The name “Evergy” comes from a combining of “ever” and “energy,” which the companies say represents their combined identities and captures the history of their predecessors as “reliable, enduring sources of energy for the communities they serve and its vision to continue far into the future.”
For now, the new company will continue to serve its customers under the familiar Westar and KCP&L brand names. Contact information, billing and account information, program enrollment and outage reporting will remain the same for customers of KCP&L and Westar.
“The Merger will create a stronger combined company, with more customers, more geographic diversification, no transaction debt to complete the merger, and the prospect for higher earnings growth rates than either GPE or Westar would be able to achieve on a stand-alone basis,” the Missouri Public Service Commission order said.
And with everything in place now, the company’s focus is now bringing that vision into reality.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.