Opponents continue to fight plans by Wisconsin Energy Corp., Milwaukee, to buy Integrys Energy Group, Chicago, even though the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the $9.1 billion deal this week.

The Wisconsin Citizens Utility Board called it “a bad idea,” in comments submitted Monday.

“WEC has shown how the proposed transaction will provide hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits for shareholders, lawyers, bankers, and customers in other states while providing nothing for Wisconsin customers but increased risks,” CUB wrote.

If approved, the huge utility will serve more than 4.3 million customers.

Wisconsin Energy subsidiary, We Energies, provides electricity to residents as far west as the Deerfield and Marshall areas in Dane County. Integrys includes Green Bay utility company Wisconsin Public Service.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center of Chicago said the merged company — to be called WEC Energy Group — will have too much control over American Transmission Corp., which owns and operates high-voltage transmission lines in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The center said WEC should have no more than 34 percent ownership or voting rights in ATC.

Wisconsin Energy spokesman Brian Manthey said FERC’s decision “represents one more positive and important step in the process of finalizing our acquisition.”

Regulators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan are expected to act on the proposal by early July. Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission could cast its vote later this month, Manthey said.


Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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