Texas utility regulators give initial ‘no’ to Oncor sale to NextEra

Florida-based NextEra Energy’s proposed purchase of Texas transmission company Oncor Electric Delivery hit a snag Thursday as Texas regulators called the $18.7 billion deal not in the public interest.

According to the Dallas Morning News, all three regulators on the Texas Public Utility Commission board said they had concerns about the sale — in particular an independent board not controlled by NextEra.

FERC approved the NextEra takeover in January 2017.

In 2015, Hunt Consolidated and partners offered to buy Oncor as part of EFH’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in an estimated $20 billion deal. However, in May Hunt informed the Texas Public Utility Commission that it was backing out of the plan.

The Hunt plan had approval from a Delaware bankruptcy judge. One alleged reason it fell through, according to some news accounts, is that Texas regulators may have required the buyer to share tax savings with customers.

Hunt said that and other regulatory caveats might scare off investors. Hunt later indicated renewed interest in an Oncor deal but NextEra has stepped in with its eleven-digit financial offer.

NextEra also had a deal to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries that was announced in 2014, but fell apart in 2016 when Hawaiian regulators voted not to approve the merger.

Oncor is privately held by a limited number of investors including Energy Future Holdings Corp.

Oncor is directly owned by: Oncor Electric Delivery Holdings Co. with an 80 percent ownership interest; Texas Transmission Investment with a 19.75 percent ownership interest; and Oncor Management Investment with a 0.22 percent ownership interest.

Oncor serves about 10 million customers in northern Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Odessa and Waco.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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