Public Utility Commission says NextERA/Oncor deal will not help ratepayers

The Public Utility Commission intends to block Florida-based NextEra Energy’s move to acquire Oncor, Texas’ largest utility owned by Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings.

During a meeting on Thursday, Texas’ three commissioners said they agreed that the $18.4 billion deal is not in the public interest, said Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the agency.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the deal in January. The project was to be approved by default by April, but the commissioners are expected to vote against it during an April 13 meeting.

If the PUC votes to reject the deal, it will be the second failed attempt to buy Oncor from bankrupt Energy Future Holdings. In May, another $18 billion deal led by Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt fell apart over regulatory concerns. NextEra lost in the original bidding process to Hunt.

“This case presents us with a difficult decision because the applicant, NextEra, is an extremely well-regarded utility holding company that generally is considered to be among the best operators of regulated utilities and merchant generation in the country,” wrote Commissioner Kenneth Anderson in a memo filed Thursday. “(But) I do not find that the tangible and quantifiable benefits to Oncor’s ratepayers are such a significant improvement over the status quo as to justify approval.”

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