The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has authorized the merger of Puget Sound Power & Light Co. and Washington Natural Gas Co.
The merged company will be renamed Puget Sound Energy, to operate as a combined electric and gas utility headquartered in Bellevue, Wash.
Under the settlement agreement, general rates for natural gas will remain unchanged until Jan. 1, 1999. Electric rates will be lowered between 1.9 percent and 6.3 percent, depending on customer class. The new utility company will be permitted to increase its electric rates each year through 2001 by 1 percent to 1.5 percent, based on cost increases. To mitigate the effects the merger might have on competition, the commission directed the utility to conduct studies to begin unbundling electric and gas rates and services. It also directed the utility to establish a program to monitor competitive impacts of the merger on all services. Re Puget Sound Power & Light Co. et al., Docket Nos. UE-951270 and UE960195, Feb. 5, 1997 (Wash.U.T.C.).