Utilities File New Testimony Wwp, Sierra Try To Overcome Federal Doubts About Merger
Would-be merger partners Washington Water Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Resources are not letting a rebuff from federal regulators change the fundamentals of their proposed business.
In a small mountain of supplemental testimony filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week, the companies chose to explain, not alter, the unique characteristics of the interstate combination.
FERC nearly scotched the deal last month. Commission members questioned the $450 million in savings the companies estimate the merger would produce over the next 10 years.
They challenged the rationales for maintaining the spread between WWP and Sierra rates, and said transmission needs of the combined utility might block access to inexpensive power by a few of Sierra’s major industrial customers.
They set aside the merger application, filed in August 1994, and scheduled the matter for hearings before an administration law judge.
The hearings will be held in June.
“The case is pretty much identical to what we filed originally,” senior rate analyst Kelly Norwood said.
The additional testimony and supporting documentation are efforts to convince FERC the merger meets its criteria for setting transmission rates, he said.
Other portions, Norwood said, address the difference between WWP and Sierra rates, and validate the proposed savings.
WWP Chairman Paul Redmond said he is confident the filing will clarify the issues of concern to FERC members.
“We’re anxious to get on with the process and view this as a critical step in getting back on track with FERC,” added Sierra Chairman Walter Higgins. “We’d like to move forward with our strategic vision of merging with Washington Water Power.”