The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recently approved the sale of a non-controlling stake in Puget Sound Energy to four investment firms.
The commission approved a sale settlement for 43.99 percent of indirect ownership in Puget Holdings LLC, the Bellevue-based investment company that owns PSE. The commission found the transfer would not harm PSE customers and is in the public interest, two conditions that are required by state law.
The approved settlement includes 65 commitments to protect consumers, including provisions that protect PSE’s financial independence and to address issues affecting communities and low-income customers. The commitments also “maintain and extend” protections ordered in a 2008 decision that allowed PSE to be sold to Puget Holdings LLC.
“The commitments found in the [settlement] are sufficient to protect PSE’s customers and the public interest from the risks of harm associated with the proposed transactions,” the commission stated in an announcement.
PSE first filed an application for the proposed sale in September. The sale would transfer a 43.99 percent ownership interest from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners Inc., and Macquarie-owned Padua MG Holdings LLC, to a group of investment firms. Three of the firms are Canadian: Alberta Investment Management Corporation, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, and OMERS Administration Corporation. The fourth firm, PGGM Vermogensbeheer B.V., is Dutch.
In an October 2018 notice, PSE described the firms as, “well-funded, diversified pension funds, with long-term investment horizons, and with investment experience in the energy sector and with regulated utilities.”
The settlement was opposed by several labor unions: Washington and Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and UA Local 32.