MERCHANT bankers from Australia have offered a small box of concessions to win friends for their planned capture of Puget Sound Energy. Their little box has mollified a lot of folks, but it is not enough.
State utility commissioners Mark Sidran, Patrick Oshie and Philip Jones, who have full authority to put a stake through this takeover, should do so, in the name of the public interest.
As a Seattle City Light customer, I’ve got no skin in this game, but why on earth would the state approve a highly leveraged buyout—four cents on the dollar—that delivers nothing to rate payers but a monopoly utility company with billions of dollars in new debt? Given the power to stop this deal, why wouldn’t we?
Over the next few decades PSE could use its profits to invest in its existing infrastructure, to, for example, prepare itself to respond more quickly to mass outages like the one that knocked some of its customers off the grid for weeks following the 2006 windstorm. Or, it could invest its profits in build green generating capacity, like solar and wind farms.
But instead, under the proposed deal, PSE will need to squeeze every penny it can out of ratepayers just to service its enormous debt.
Rejecting this deal is just common sense. So common, that even the Times and I agree.