Georgia PSC approves Southern merger with AGL

The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved April 14 the Southern (NYSE:SO) merger with AGL Resources (NYSE:GAS).

The PSC approved the proposed settlement of the joint request by the petitioners in Dockets 39971 and 9574. All parties in the proceeding supported the settlement.

The decision settles all issues in the above mentioned dockets and will cancel any further scheduled proceedings.

One of the key items in the settlement is a three year freeze on Georgia Power’s base rates meaning Georgia Power rates will remain the same through December 31, 2019.

The PSC approved settlement of the merger includes a number of items to protect the ratepayers of Atlanta Gas Light Co. and Georgia Power as well as consumers who receive natural gas from commission-certificated natural gas marketers in Georgia’s deregulated natural gas market.

The transaction had already won approval from regulators in California.

Southern is already one of the largest consumers of natural gas in America. Southern has said the pending acquisition of AGL Resources will help address one of the key challenges facing the energy industry – developing the infrastructure necessary to send low-priced natural gas to areas where it is increasingly needed.

“I believe this agreement contains safeguards for ratepayers and consumers while at the same time allowing this merger to move forward in accordance with Georgia law and Commission rules,” said PSC Chairman Chuck Eaton.

Both Southern and AGL are based in Atlanta.

“The merger is good for the Georgia economy,” said Commissioner Tim Echols. “Had AGL Resources left our state with one of the other companies pursuing them, they would have taken many jobs with them. Keeping them in Georgia has a very positive impact.”

Southern announced plans to acquire AGL Resources on August 24, 2015 and the Joint Petitioners filed a formal petition for commission approval on Dec. 15, 2015. The PSC held a hearing on the joint petitioners direct testimony on March 15. The settlement was filed with the commission on April 7.

AGL Resources is the parent company of Atlanta Gas Light, a regulated utility providing natural gas distribution services to approximately 1,578,000 customers in Georgia.

When completed, the combination of Southern Company and AGL Resources would unite two Georgia-based energy leaders and is expected to create the second-largest utility company in the U.S. by customer base

The Georgia PSC is a five-member constitutional agency that exercises its authority and influence to ensure that consumers receive safe, reliable, and reasonably-priced telecommunications, electric and natural gas service.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.