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Big deal! Peoples/North Shore parent to be gobbled up for $9 billion

Wisconsin Energy Corp announced this morning that it plans to purchase Integrys Energy Group, Inc.– parent company to Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas– for $9.1 billion.  The combined company will serve 4.3 million electric and gas customers across Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The deal is set to close in 2015, pending approval from the  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Michigan Public Service Commission, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), and Wisconsin Energy Corp’s shareholders.

So what does this mean for Illinois consumers?

The merger is not expected to impact Chicago electricity customers who have contracted with Integrys Energy Services (under Integrys Energy Group) as part of the City’s municipal aggregation deal.  That contract should expire by the time the acquisition is finalized, according to a representative from Integrys who spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times.

As for the hundreds of thousands of Peoples and North Shore Gas customers?  It remains to be seen, but CUB plans to carefully review the merger to ensure it is in the best interest of consumers and won’t spark further rate hikes. (Since 2008, Peoples Gas has received about $250 million in rate hikes, and Peoples and North Shore are currently asking for a total increase of about $136 million.)

“CUB wants to make sure that this is a good move for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas customers,” CUB Executive Director Kolata said in a statement this morning, “so we will be quick to point out any shortcomings and propose improvements to make this a better deal for Chicago-area consumers.”

Stay tuned for updates about this merger and how it could impact your bills.