Puget Sound Energy and the international consortium that has proposed to take over the utility said today that the state consumer advocate's...

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Puget Sound Energy and the international consortium that has proposed to take over the utility said today that the state consumer advocate’s opposition to the deal is based on flawed arguments.

In a filing with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), executives for utility holding company Puget Energy and the buyer group led by Australian bank Macquarie said that the Attorney General’s Public Counsel office was undervaluing the recent modifications made by the buyers and overstating the risks associated with the transaction. Public Counsel is the sole remaining major party opposed to the $7.8 billion deal after the consortium reached a settlement with other former critics, including the UTC’s staff.

Public Counsel said the deal, which includes a $300 million investment made last December, could undermine the credit profile of Washington’s largest utility by saddling it with additional debt. In their testimony today, Puget Energy and the takeover group said the transaction would actually reduce the company’s debt ratio to 49.6 percent from 60.4 percent.

Puget Energy’s financial health “will be better than recent historical levels,” the filing said.

The deal, which represents a 30 percent premium on the price of Puget Energy shares, was overwhelmingly approved by shareholders. Federal regulators have also given their blessing to the transaction, but the UTC has the last word.

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com