WA utilities officials block Avista merger

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission announced Wednesday that they would not support the sale of Avista Corp. to Canadian company Hydro One.

The decision spells the end for the $5.3 billion sale, reports The Spokesman-Review, and Washington commissioners cited the Ontario government’s deep involvement in Hydro One’s operations. The commission specifically referenced events from this past summer, when Ontario Premier Doug Ford demanded the removal of Hydro One’s CEO and board of directors. The company’s credit rating then dropped and Ontario then passed legislation meddling directly with Hydro One’s operations, The Spokesman reports.

“This sudden and complete change in Hydro One’s leadership at the instance of its former owner and largest shareholder, the Province of Ontario, along with certain legislation passed quickly into law following the change in government leadership, demonstrates that Hydro One remains subject to management control by the province,” the commissioners wrote in their decision, concluding that the sale of Avista to the Canadian company would not be in the best interest of Avista customers.

Montana and Alaska utilities commissions have already approved the sale. Idaho and Oregon have yet to share their decisions. At an Idaho Public Utility Commission public hearing in Sandpoint this past June regarding the possible merger, comments were almost entirely against the sale.

The Spokesman reports Avista and Hydro One are able to petition the commission to reverse the decision or seek a judicial review.

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