Midwest utilities Great Plains Energy Inc., which serves customers as KCP&L, and Westar Energy Inc. have received final regulatory approval from the Kansas Corporation Commission and Missouri Public Service Commission to combine forces and create a combined company called Evergy Inc., a blend of “ever” and “energy.”
The stock-for-stock merger of equals creates a holding company of approximately $15 billion equity value. Evergy’s principal business will be conducted by the operating companies known today as Westar and KCP&L.
The combined company will serve approximately 1.6 million customers, with approximately 1 million in Kansas and 600,000 in Missouri. In addition, the company will own, operate and maintain more than 51,000 miles of distribution lines and 13,000 MW of generation.
Notably, with a focus on renewables, Evergy will meet nearly half of the energy needs for the homes and businesses it serves with energy from zero-emission sources. Nearly one-third will come from renewable energy. In addition, the company is developing more ways to support customers and communities with energy efficiency and additional renewable energy programs. Some of Westar’s renewable energy projects include the 280 MW Western Plains wind farm and a 1.2 MW community solar installation, and one of Great Plains Energy’s wind power initiatives is the purchase of power from the 200 MW Prairie Queen wind farm.
With corporate headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., and operational headquarters in both Kansas City, Mo., and Topeka, Kan., Evergy will be the parent of Westar Energy and of KCP&L and KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Co., which were previously part of Great Plains Energy. Altogether, the company will employ about 5,000 across Kansas and Missouri. Company executives will be located in Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City.
“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,” states Terry Bassham, chairman and CEO 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 companies anticipate a closing date in early June, concluding a two-year effort to combine the two 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. For the immediate future, the company will continue to serve its customers under the familiar Westar and KCP&L brand names.