PSE sale to investors is approved

In a 2-1 vote, state regulators today approved the sale of Puget Sound Energy to the New York-based, multinational Puget Holdings LLC, a transaction with an estimated value of $7.4 billion. The sale is subject to 78 conditions to protect customers and preserve the public interest.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a multi-party settlement, concluding that the sale of PSE is “consistent with the public interest” and will not harm ratepayers, the legal standard for approval of such sales. The decision was opposed by the Public Counsel Section of the Attorney General’s Office.

“The commission will continue to regulate PSE’s natural gas and electric rates, services, facilities and practices just as it does today,” UTC Chairman Mark Sidran and Commissioner Patrick Oshie said.

Commissioner Philip Jones opposed approval of the sale. He said, “The settlement agreement in its current form creates too much risk and potential harm for ratepayers and stakeholders. The proposed agreement sets forth a capital structure with excessive debt for Puget Energy and PSE, and creates a privately held investor consortium that lacks sufficient transparency compared to the status quo.”

Jones said that he believes “the increased debt load creates undue risk for ratepayers by requiring PSE to create sufficient cash flow to service the substantial amounts of new debt” and “it will place great pressure on the commission to approve the necessary large and frequent rate increases on a consistent basis.”

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