NextEra Energy Seeks New Hearing on Oncor Takeover

By Peg Brickley Features Dow Jones Newswires

NextEra Energy Inc. has asked Texas energy regulators to reconsider their decision to reject its takeover of Oncor, one of the country's largest electricity transmissions businesses.

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In a Monday filing with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the Florida power company took aim at what it says was an error-riddled series of findings that killed the deal.

Texas energy regulators voted "no" to the deal at the end of March and followed that preliminary ruling with a formal thumbs-down in April. The commission's decision meant the $18.7 billion transaction couldn't go through.

NextEra, which has been trying to buy Oncor since 2014, couldn't acquire the transmissions business, and Energy Future Holdings Corp., which owns 80% of Oncor, couldn't sell it. Energy Future remains stuck in bankruptcy.

NextEra has since said it had launched talks aimed at reviving the deal and was considering seeking a new hearing before the state commission, among other options.

On Monday, NextEra filed 45 pages of arguments in support of a rehearing, contending, among other things, that it was deprived of due process by regulators that overstepped their authority. The motion for rehearing could be a first step toward other legal action, the documents say, as a motion for rehearing helps preserve NextEra's right to seek judicial review.

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Texas regulators wielded a "newly minted, more stringent standard to evaluate the public interest," lawyers for NextEra wrote in papers filed Monday, seeking another shot at acquiring Oncor.

Energy Future Holdings Corp. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2014, weighed down with $42 billion in debt. The electricity retailing and generating businesses of the former TXU Corp. exited bankruptcy under a separate plan, but Energy Future, and its Oncor stake, remain in chapter 11.

Oncor didn't file for bankruptcy. The Public Utility Commission of Texas said ringfencing provisions they insisted upon protected the regulated business from its majority owner's financial troubles. Regulators wanted NextEra to leave many of those protections in place, but NextEra insists that isn't necessary.

Write to Peg Brickley at peg.brickley@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 08, 2017 17:35 ET (21:35 GMT)