Despite a pre-merger quiet period, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is busily preparing a deluge of regulatory filings by the end of the year on its proposed $7.4 billion merger with a consortium of Australian and Canadian private equity interests bidding to take the Bellevue, WA-based utility private.

While the deal announced in late October received some favorable early indicators from the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division in late November, those are really “second tier” regulatory checkpoints, a PSE spokesperson told NGI Thursday. The major regulatory filings and eventual processes are still to come at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Also in the preparation stages is a proxy statement for shareholders of PSE’s holding company, Puget Energy. A vote and meeting of shareholders most likely will be held in the first half of next year, said the PSE spokesperson, who said since the Oct. 26 announcement there has been no organized opposition from the shareholder, consumer or legislative sectors.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire has praised PSE for “a long record of being a good corporate citizen and providing Washington with an essential public service.” Gregoire said she believed the utility “will continue to reflect our communities’ values and will be able to invest in meeting the energy needs of Washingtonians.”

In October, Puget CEO Stephen Reynolds and the Australian-led private investment consortium touted their merger as a “sustainable model” for the energy industry to allow electric and natural gas utilities to come up with staggering new capital funding levels to meet future infrastructure needs to produce, transport and deliver energy to the nation’s homes and businesses (see Daily GPI, Oct. 30).

Macquarie Infrastructure Partners is leading the private investment funds, and it has brought together Canadian-based investors in neighboring British Columbia and Alberta, provinces from which PSE already draws energy supplies.

©Copyright 2007Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.