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Kansas City Area Development Council Announces Regional Support for Great Plains Energy’s Acquisition of Westar Energy

by Angela Orr | Sep 07, 2016
Combined company will help region maintain competitive electric rates while operating one of the nation’s largest wind generation portfolios

Kansas City, Mo. (September 7, 2016) – The Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) announced it is leading robust regional support for Great Plains Energy Incorporated (NYSE: GXP), the parent company of KCP&L, in its acquisition of neighboring Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR). The $12.2 billion deal will add capacity and cost savings for residents and businesses in the 18-county, two state Kansas City region.

“Strong, locally-owned utilities are a cornerstone of healthy regional economies,” said Tim Cowden, President and CEO, KCADC, the umbrella economic development organization for the Kansas City region. “The combination of KCP&L and Westar Energy will ensure good jobs stay here and will allow us to maintain our competitive electric rates, one of our region’s distinct advantages and one of the most important considerations for site selection consultants and companies looking to relocate to our area.”

Once the transaction is complete, the new utility will have more than 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri, nearly 13,000 megawatts of generation capacity, almost 10,000 miles of transmission lines and more than 51,000 miles of distribution lines. In addition, more than 45 percent of the combined utility’s retail customer demand can be met with emission-free energy.

“Bringing together the senior leadership of KCP&L and Westar Energy ensures that they will remain engaged in Kansas and Missouri,” said Cowden. “Local leadership living, working and contributing in our community ensures our economic development efforts will continue to have their full attention. Their involvement and support of our efforts is critical to the future economic health of our region.”

The transaction is on track and expected to close in the second quarter of 2017. The downtown Kansas City, Missouri, and downtown Topeka, Kansas, headquarters will remain after closing.

“We are extremely fortunate that Westar Energy found a neighboring buyer that understands and appreciates firsthand the regional needs of individual and corporate customers, especially with regard to business retention and attraction efforts in the heartland,” said Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO, GO Topeka. “Both of these outstanding companies share a reputation for doing the right thing and going above and beyond with regard to their commitment to employees, safety, quality, the environment and corporate philanthropy.”

KCP&L and Westar each have been serving customers in Kansas and Missouri for more than 100 years and currently jointly own and operate the Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station, as well as the La Cygne and Jeffrey power plants. With the addition of Westar’s generation fleet, Great Plains Energy will have a more diverse and sustainable generation portfolio.

In addition, among investor-owned utilities in the United States, the combined company will have one of the largest portfolios of wind generation in the country. KCP&L and Westar each have made significant commitments to harvesting the general wind Kansas provides. KCP&L was the first utility in the country to own and operate a commercial-scale wind farm in the state of Kansas at its 148.5 megawatt Spearville Wind Generation Facility. Westar Energy’s multiple wind farms will provide 32% of the utility’s retail electricity by the end of 2016.

“A robust portfolio of renewable energy is increasingly important to companies when they are looking to locate facilities,” said Cowden.

Great Plains Energy has an established track record of successful integration with adjacent electric utilities. In 2008, Great Plains Energy completed its acquisition of Aquila, an electric utility serving customers in adjacent areas of Missouri. That successful acquisition has delivered – and continues to deliver – significant savings for customers, which have exceeded initial expectations.

Several regional economic development agencies have joined KCADC in their support of KCP&L’s acquisition of Westar Energy and in recognition of the enormous economic development benefits that this transaction will have for the region. Those organizations include:  

Missouri
  • City of Belton
  • Cass County Corporation for Economic Development
  • Clinton Chamber of Commerce
  • Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
  • Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Independence Council for Economic Development
  • Lee's Summit Economic Development Council
  • Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Raytown
  • Platte County Economic Development Council
  • St. Clair County Economic Development
  • St. Joseph Economic Development Partnership
  • Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County Economic Development
Kansas
  • Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Butler County Community Development
  • De Soto Economic Development Council
  • Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas (Emporia)
  • El Dorado Chamber of Commerce
  • Emporia Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Fort Scott Economic Development
  • Harvey County Economic Development Council
  • Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Leavenworth County Development Corporation
  • City of Parsons Economic Development
  • Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce
  • GO Topeka
  • Wyandotte Economic Development Council
About Greater Kansas City
Home to 2.5 million people, the Kansas City region offers the benefits of more than 50 unique communities and 18 counties in Kansas and Missouri. The area ranks as the number one rail center in the U.S., the country’s third largest trucking center and one of the largest Foreign Trade Zones in the U.S. The Kansas City region is recognized as "America's Creative Crossroads" as a center for technology and artistry.   

About KCADC
The Kansas City Area Development Council serves the 18-county, two-state Kansas City area by marketing the region’s business and lifestyle assets to companies around the world. Working closely with its 50+ state, county and community partners and its more than 250 corporate partners across the region, KCADC has attracted companies pledging to create more than 60,000 new jobs over its 40-year history. Visit thinkkc.com for more information.

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