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Puget Energy Reports Qtr Earnings Drop; New Share Sale Nets $310 Million

As previewed last week, Bellevue, WA-based Puget Energy, holding company for combination utility Puget Sound Energy (PSE), reported reduced third quarter earnings Tuesday. Net income from continuing operations totaled $5.9 million, or 6 cents/share, compared with $9.4 million, or 9 cents/share, for the same period in 2004, the company said.

Utility profits fell to $6.2 million, compared to $9.6 million for the same period last year. "Higher utility operations and maintenance costs and plant depreciation expense during the third quarter this year offset the impact of an increase in margins from higher energy sales to electric and natural retail customers," said a PSE spokesperson, adding that the bulk of the net proceeds from the stock sale will be used to fund the utility's construction program.

"We are investing in necessary energy infrastructure to provide safe, reliable service to our growing region," said Puget Energy CEO Stephen Reynolds. "We are also highlighting our energy efficiency programs to help our customers manage through this period of high energy prices."

As part of the earnings announcement, Reynolds said that the company's 150 MW Hopkins Ridge wind power project has received regulatory approval and is "on track to begin serving customers by year-end." In addition, PSE has begun construction on a second major wind power project and it will begin a "review of a new series of electric generating resources." The holding company's Oct. 26 sale of 15 million shares of common stock netted $310 million.

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