Sempra, Oncor Reach Agreement with Texas Intervenors

Sempra Energy and Oncor have reached a settlement with all parties involved in Sempra’s proposed $9.45 billion acquisition of Energy Future Holdings, the two companies said Thursday.

The companies said Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) has joined nine other intervenors in resolving all issues in the proceeding before the Public Utility Commission of Texas, with Oncor filing a request that the commission cancel a scheduled Feb. 21 hearing on the merits of its acquisition (Docket 47675). (See Sempra, Oncor Reach Deal with Texas Stakeholders.)

“The revised stipulation has the unanimous support of commission staff and the nine intervening parties, and there are no outstanding requests for a hearing,” Oncor said. The company asked that the settlement agreement be presented to the PUC for consideration “as soon as reasonably practicable.”

TLSC, a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal representation and advice to low-income persons and Medicare recipients, had opposed the acquisition because the electric rates of low-income consumers “may be adversely affected.” The firm had filed a brief two days before the agreement was reached, responding to joint objections by the companies and a motion to strike the testimony of its key witness.

Sempra CEO Debra Reed said gaining unanimous stakeholder support “represents an important milestone for our proposed acquisition.”

“We and many others in our state believe that Sempra Energy will be a great partner for Texas,” Oncor CEO Bob Shapard said.

Besides TLSC and PUC staff, the other intervenors include: the Office of Public Utility Counsel; Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor; Texas Industrial Energy Consumers; Energy Freedom Coalition of America; Golden Spread Electric Cooperative; Nucor Steel; the Alliance for Retail Markets; and the Texas Energy Association for Marketers.

EFH, which declared bankruptcy in 2014, holds an indirect 80% interest in Oncor. Hunt Consolidated, NextEra Energy and Berkshire Hathaway Energy have all come up short in previous attempts to acquire Oncor, the largest electric utility in Texas.

San Diego-based Sempra announced its intentions to acquire EFH last August, and received approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in September. FERC gave its approval for the acquisition in December, but the transaction remains subject to further approvals by the bankruptcy court and the PUC.