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Algonquin, Empire District clear final regulatory hurdle for merger

The Kansas Corporation Commission has approved the proposed $2.4 billion merger of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. and Empire District Electric Co. With the receipt of the final required regulatory approval, the companies expect to close the deal Jan. 1, 2017.

On Dec. 22, the Kansas regulators unanimously approved a settlement agreement between the companies, the Kansas Corporation Commission staff and the Citizens' Utility Ratepayer Board. As part of the settlement, Empire District agreed to withdraw its pending rate case in Kansas and freeze its current base rates until Jan. 1, 2019. The company may also ask for costs recovery of about $1.2 million related to the Riverton CC project under its current environmental recovery rider.

Canada-headquartered Algonquin agreed to acquire Joplin, Mo.-headquartered Empire District in February for $2.4 billion, including the assumption of $900 million in debt. Among Algonquin's holdings are natural gas utilities in several Midwestern states, including Missouri. Joplin will become the regional headquarters for all electric and natural gas operations in the Midwest. The transaction had previously received approvals from shareholders; FERC; and regulators from Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.