More than 120,000 Iowans will have to write out their natural gas bill payments to a new utility. South Dakota-based Black Hills Energy is buying out much of Missouri-based Aquila in a $940-million deal. Black Hills spokesman Bob McKeon says they’ve acquired five Aquila utilities in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.
McKeon says the move is bringing new jobs to the Omaha-Council Bluffs area. "We’ve actually added approximately eighty new positions to support the expanded operation. That’s going to be approximately fifty new positions here in the Omaha office."
McKeon says all Aquila customers in Iowa and elsewhere should be aware their new utility bills will be different, so if they receive something from Black Hills Energy, don’t throw it away. "It is also going to say Aquila at the top of the bill but in the message area, it will reference being part of Black Hills Corporation and that actually starts on bills being printed tonight and being mailed tomorrow."
With the corporate change, McKeon says rates will not go up. "For the acquisition of Aquila, it’s being funded against cash debt and other financing, not by increasing rates," he says. There are about 127,000 residential customers in Iowa and another 20-thousand commercial customers statewide that will be served by Black Hills Energy.
The transaction closed on Monday. Black Hills is acquiring Aquila’s natural gas and electric utilities in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, while Kansas City, Missouri-based Great Plains Energy will take over Aquila’s Missouri electric utilities, stock and other corporate assets.