Public Utility Commission votes to reject $18.4 billion NextEra-Oncor deal

Photo by Jon Bower at Apexphotos

The Public Utility Commission of Texas voted unanimously on Thursday to deny an application of NextEra Energy to acquire Dallas-based Oncor, Texas’ largest utility, and declared that the proposed $18.4 billion deal was not in the public interest.

The three commissions indicated that they would not approve the deal during a meeting last month, when Commissioner Kenneth Anderson submitted a memo outlining the commission’s concerns that the acquisition posed too many risks for ratepayers.

In its final order, the commission said that Oncor customers would have been required to take on 15 percent of NextEra’s $45 billion in debt.

NextEra had also asked that the PUC adjust its so-called “ring fence” policy, which prevents transmission and distribution utilities like Oncor from owning power generation assets. The policy is designed to prevent ratepayers from financial risks, a protection that NextEra wanted to weaken, the PUC said.

This was 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.

Take a look at the biggest energy deals of the last 20 years in the gallery above.