PSE merger will benefit customers | Andy Wappler

And I thought the weather got people riled up! Going from meteorology to the energy industry put me in stormy seas.

And I thought the weather got people riled up! Going from meteorology to the energy industry put me in stormy seas.

Puget Sound Energy, my new employer, is merging with some Canadian pension funds and New York and Australian investors. Until now, I would have thought “Canadian pension funds” were as alarming as Melba toast, and Crocodile Dundee seemed like a fun guy. New York is another story! But this merger is causing a ripple, mostly due to myths about what it means to you and me and everyone who pays a utility bill.

Myth 1: PSE won’t be regulated! False. State regulators will still have the last word on rate increases and service just like today. Federal regulators stay on the job, too.

Myth 2: PSE won’t fix things after a big storm! False, again. Keeping the lights on is how we stay in business. Plus, we live here, and want to be good neighbors.

Myth 3: PSE won’t care about the environment! False. PSE is committed to clean renewable energy, and it’s required by state law. Same with energy efficiency — it’s also the law. The only change you’ll see is more wind, more solar and more tools to help you save energy, all financed by the new investors. Zero-carbon hydropower stays in the mix as well.

Myth 4: PSE will have too much debt! Actually, the utility will have our best balance sheet in years, but there’s no getting around our need for dollars, billions of them, to make upgrades, meet customer growth, add renewable energy and keep up with inflation. Public or private, all utilities are facing financial crunch time.

Consider that your standard-issue, used-to-be-a-tree utility pole now costs about $3,300 — up some 500 percent since the 1970s. And those awesome wind turbines? With the U.S. dollar tanking, they’ve doubled in price since 2005.

This merger will fund the things you’ve told us are important: Improving service and caring for the environment. Some critics say we should just stay a publicly-traded stock and raise money on Wall Street. The trouble is, Wall Street wants the next sexy investment, and while we’re pretty attractive, it’s in more of a “great personality, loves to dance” way than drop-dead gorgeous. We’re a good buy, but only in the long run, and today’s “Squawk Box” watcher can’t see past the next quarterly report. The debt argument also ignores the fact that no matter who owns PSE, the need for huge investments — and huge borrowing — won’t go away.

Want more information? Go to and click on the “merger news” section. You’ll see some video Q&A with Steve Reynolds, the boss. I did the interview myself, and he answered whatever I asked him. I’m confident the merger will build a better PSE for our customers and our community.

And next time I get a chance to talk to those scary Canadians, Australians and New Yorkers, I’ll report back on that, too.

Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He joined PSE in February 2008 after being chief meteorologist at KIRO-TV. Contact:

More in Business

Workers bustle about Joint Rivers, the state’s first drive-through cannabis dispensary, behind the Muckleshoot Bingo Hall. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter
State’s first drive-through pot dispensary opens in Auburn

Joint Rivers in Auburn is the first marijuana outlet in the state to offer the service

Polly Shepherd named new publisher of Federal Way Mirror

Polly Shepherd has been named the new publisher of the Federal Way… Continue reading

Global trade market matters in Federal Way

About 40 percent of Washington jobs are tied to international trade.

Federal Way resident named a Lifetime Achiever by Marquis Who’s Who

Thomas Edward Gates has a law practice in Tukwila

Fake employment agency targets job seekers

BBB warns of con artists targeting online job hunters

Shop Chamber to support businesses, local economic growth

Membership in the Chamber of Commerce is a smart business investment. While… Continue reading

Life Care Center of Federal Way names new executive director

Samantha L’Allier has worked in senior care since she was 17.

The Chopped Leaf offers healthy dining alternative

Federal Way couple opens first U.S. location of Canadian restaurant

Mill Ridge Village employees earn awards

Three professionals will be recognized by hundreds of their peers at the… Continue reading

TJ graduate opens counseling practice in Twin Lakes

Life Care Center of Federal Way names new executive director Samantha L’Allier… Continue reading

There is no They, only We | Rebecca Martin

Four years ago, I arrived in the Pacific Northwest as the new… Continue reading

Sound Publishing appoints Josh O’Connor as new president

Josh O’Connor, publisher of The Daily Herald in Everett, has been appointed… Continue reading