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Wisconsin Utility To Buy Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas For $9B

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WBBM 780’s Regine Schlesinger

natural gas flame 1207 Wisconsin Utility To Buy Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas For $9B
WBBM 780/105.9FM

CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois state regulators and a consumer watchdog group were looking at a $9 billion deal for the sale of two local natural gas suppliers to a utility company in Wisconsin.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Wisconsin Energy has agreed to buy Chicago-based Integrys, the parent company of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, for $9.1 billion.

Citizens Utility Board executive director David Kolata said it’s too early what the deal could mean for consumers in the Chicago area, but he said if the deal were approved by federal and state regulators, the Illinois Commerce Commission would continue oversight of natural gas rates in Illinois.

“The Illinois utilities are in fact Illinois utilities. No matter who owns them, that will be the case. The ICC will always have authority over that,” Kolata said. “The ICC will also have authority of whether this consolidation, this merger, can go through.”

Wisconsin regulators also must sign off on the deal.

Kolata said CUB would be making its own analysis of the deal to make sure it benefits customers of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.

“Certainly, we’re going to be looking at this very carefully to make sure that consumers are protected, and that if the deal goes forward, that ultimately we’re getting the best possible deal for Chicago area consumers,” he said.

The combined company, to be named WEC Energy Group Inc., would be based in Milwaukee, with operating headquarters in Chicago as well.