What happened?
Power utility Southern Company (NYSE:SO) is soon to be one asset larger. The company announced that its board of directors and that of utility and energy technology specialist PowerSecure (NYSE:POWR.DL) have agreed to a merger. The deal will see Southern acquire PowerSecure at a price of $18.75 per share in cash. All told, the arrangement is worth roughly $431 million.


Southern aims to expand and modernize its offerings through the deal. In the joint press release announcing the transaction, Southern said that it will be "positioned to accelerate the ongoing expansion of energy product offerings that are intended to provide customers greater control of their energy use."

It will also "add complementary technical depth in customer-located reliability and efficiency technologies," Southern said.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. Southern expects the deal to close by the end of Q2.

Does it matter?
For the most part, utilities -- even relatively well diversified ones like Southern -- are slow growers, since rate and customer increases are gradual compared to other industries. As a result, a utility has a better chance of adding substantially to its results if it takes on complementary acquisitions.

That's been Southern's strategy lately, and it doesn't mind spending a buck or two for those assets. Last August, it reached a deal to purchase natural gas utility AGL Resources, a sprawling entity that will cost it around $8 billion.

So $431 million for PowerSecure is small potatoes compared to what Southern's been spending to bulk itself up. Taken as a whole, the stock will certainly be affected by such moves, with PowerSecure the latest confirmation that Southern intends to become a bigger, broader company.

It's an enterprise with high ambitions on the move. We shouldn't be surprised if Southern announces another acquisition -- or several -- in its quest to power up.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.