United States

United States

NSP and Wisconsin Energy call off merger

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Northern States Power (NSP) and Wisconsin Energy Corporation (WEC) unexpectedly called off their $6 billion merger plans just two days after the proposal was rejected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in mid May, a decision welcomed by Midwest environmentalists. FERC said the market would be overly dominated by the new mega-company, which was to be known as Primergy, and told the merger applicants and opponents to resolve the question of domination. But the utilities, both of which are known for involvement in wind power, responded that the merger is off although they will consider various collaborations suggested during the review process. It had been announced in 1995. Green groups such as Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy, the Environmental Law and Policy Centre, and the Izaak Walton League of America had warned that the merger would lead to more reliance upon old coal-fired plants now running less than half the time -- to the detriment of renewables. Wisconsin Electric, owned by WEC, has a green pricing programme that may soon be expanded to include wind (Windpower Monthly, February 1997). NSP recently issued a shortlist for the 100 MW Phase III of its wind development on Buffalo Ridge. Similar warnings about mergers prompted by restructuring of the electricity market are being sounded around the country. How can the public get the clean, green power it is demanding if one company dominates the market, wonders Michael Noble of Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy.

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