PSC approves Wisconsin Energy deal

Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp.’s acquisition of Integrys Energy Group Inc. has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

In an open meeting yesterday, the PSC decided that the combination of the two companies would be in the best interests of the utility customers, investors and the public. But it did set some ground rules in return for its thumbs up.

Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and Wisconsin Gas LLC will be under a three-year earnings cap and sharing mechanism beginning in 2016. Under the agreement, customers would share in 50 percent of the first 50 basis points of additional earnings by Wisconsin Electric; after the first 50 basis points, additional utility earnings would be used to pay down transmission escrow. Wisconsin Gas’ earnings cap is the same, except the additional earnings will be used to pay down the costs of the West Central Natural Gas Lateral.

Another condition is that if Wisconsin Electric or Wisconsin Public Service Corp. decides to construct new generation, they must get the plan approved by the PSC.

The PSC’s final written order, which sets out the official ruling, is expected by the end of May.

The Wisconsin approval is another step toward finalizing the $9.1 billion deal. The WE Energies parent’s acquisition of Integrys, the parent of Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp., has also been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Michigan Public Service Commission, and is still waiting for approval from the Illinois and Minnesota public service commissions.
The new company would be called WEC Energy Group, and would serve more than 4.3 million electric and natural gas customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission plans to take up he issue in early May. And the Illinois Commerce Commission is scheduled to make a decision by July 6.

If Wisconsin Energy receives all the regulatory approvals, it is aiming to complete the transaction in the second half of the year.

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