The Florida company that wants to buy Texas’ largest regulated utility refuses to give up on its $18.7 billion offer to buy Dallas-based Oncor Electric Delivery.
Despite two rejections by state regulators, NextEra Energy filed another appeal Tuesday to get the Texas Public Utility Commission to reconsider its offer. While not explicitly threatening litigation, the latest appeal says NextEra is looking to “preserve the Company’s rights to judicial review.”
The commission initially rejected the offer in April, saying it is not in the public’s interest. And earlier this month, it shot down NextEra’s request for rehearing.
“While the Commission has issued an Order on Rehearing that clarifies and corrects some of the deficiencies in the original final order, the Order on Rehearing neglects other errors and further introduces new errors in attempting to rectify the shortcomings of the earlier order,” the latest rehearing appeal notes.
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A spokesman for the commission had no comment other than to say the regulatory agency has 10 days to respond.
The agency has been unequivocal in its rejection of NextEra’s offer for Oncor, which delivers electricity to more than 3 million Texas homes, saying the deal would provide little benefit to ratepayers. Oncor is owned by bankrupt Energy Future Holdings.
“While NextEra Energy is a well-regarded utility holding company, the expansive and diversified structure of NextEra Energy and its affiliates would subject Oncor to new and potentially substantial risks,” Public Utility Commission officials wrote.
NextEra said that the commissioners’ initial denial contained serious errors and that it rejected the deal on an “unlawful ad hoc basis.” The company also claimed in its filings that the commission didn’t have the authority to block the deal.
The commissioners’ insistence that the Oncor board remain independent was one of the biggest hurdles in their review of the deal. NextEra was opposed to the state’s “ring fence” provision. Both sides said the other’s stance was a “deal killer.”
The sale was expected to help end the prolonged bankruptcy of Energy Future Holdings, Oncor’s parent company. Despite Energy Future’s financial struggles, which started years before the bankruptcy, Oncor has remained profitable and stable.
In the latest filing, NextEra questioned “whether the public interest is better served by leaving the state’s largest utility under the constraints of ownership by financial investors mired in bankruptcy.”