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Purchase of PacficCorp wins OK in Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash

. -- Washington utility regulators on Thursday joined their Oregon counterparts in endorsing ScottishPower's purchase of Portland-based PacifiCorp.

The three-member Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission unanimously backed the plan, after adding conditions that regulators said will improve customer service and benefit ratepayers.

Under the commission's adoption of ScottishPower's proposal, regulators said Washington customers of PacifiCorp could expect fewer power outages, faster response times and money-back guarantees.

The WUTC said ScottishPower would have to give Washington customers a credit totaling $12 million -- a 1.7 percent reduction in monthly electric bills -- between 2001 and 2004.

Washington is the third of six states to approve ScottishPower's $8 billion buyout of PacifiCorp.

Oregon regulators endorsed it last week, and California regulators signed on earlier this year, as have regulators in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The deal still needs approval from regulators in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, as well as the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

If approved, the merger would mark the first time a foreign company has purchased a major U.S. electric utility.

Final approval is not expected before the end of the year, the WUTC said.

ScottishPower, based in Glasgow, Scotland, provides electricity to 5.5 million homes across Scotland, England and Wales. PacifiCorp, through Pacific Power, serves 1.5 million customers in six Western states, including 117,00 customers in Washington.

The combined company, which will be known as PacifiCorp in the United States, will have some 7 million customers and 23,500 employees worldwide, the WUTC said.