Opinion Columns & Blogs

Rejection of utility merger not too surprising

The Kansas Corporation Commission’s rejection of the proposed $12.2 billion merger of Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light probably surprised some people – including Gov. Sam Brownback and Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, who endorsed the deal. But the KCC decided the merger was not in the public’s interest – and in the end, that is what’s most important. The commissioners were concerned about the price KCP&L’s parent company, Great Plains Energy, agreed to pay for Westar and the debt it would acquire. They worried the merger would result in a financially weakened company, which could potentially lead to job cuts, service reductions and eventually higher electric rates. KCC staff and the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board opposed the merger for the same reasons – as did large industrial customers. So the commissioners’ decision shouldn’t have been that surprising. – Phillip Brownlee