Southwest-Oneok Merger Moving Ahead
Southwest Gas Corp., Oneok Inc. and the Office of Ratepayer
Advocates (ORA), the consumer advocacy arm of the California Public
Utilities Commission (CPUC), have submitted a joint recommendation
to the CPUC that the proposed merger of Southwest and Oneok be
Regulators in Nevada and Arizona also have jurisdiction over the
merger. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) has
already unanimously approved the merger. In Arizona, the utilities
have agreed with the staffs of the Arizona Corporation Commission
(ACC) and Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) on terms and
conditions governing the merger. The ACC is expected to act on the
merger proposal in August, and the CPUC in September or October,
Southwest Gas said.
The joint recommendation with the ORA requires merger savings be
shared on a 50-50 basis between the company and its California
customers and requires service standards be maintained at current
Southwest Gas levels. If the joint recommendation is adopted by the
CPUC, customers will receive $2 million in merger savings during
the first five years following the closing.
If all regulatory approvals are obtained on approximately the
expected timetable, the company expects the merger will be
consummated about midway through the fourth quarter of 1999.
In other Southwest-Oneok merger news, a lawsuit filed by
Southern Union against Oneok and Southwest and certain officers of
the companies was said by Oneok CEO Larry Brummett to be without
merit. "This action appears to be nothing more than another
desperate attempt by Southern Union to slow the approval process
and create confusion about the pending ONEOK-Southwest Gas merger.
The accusations made against ONEOK in this lawsuit are false. We
have done nothing illegal or improper in our efforts to move
forward with the approval process and we do not plan to be deterred
by the efforts of Southern Union."
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