The Oregon Public Utilities Commission on Jan. 15 determined that there is no “justiciable controversy” to resolve in the proposed acquisition of Avista Corporation by Hydro One Limited, following denials in Washington and Idaho. The agency issued an order suspending the proceeding indefinitely until the companies notify of a reversal of the denials, providing an issue to address. The transaction has faced a series of setbacks following Hydro One’s leadership changes in June last year.
Washington regulators rejected the merger in December over concerns of political interference from the Province of Ontario, Hydro One’s largest shareholder, and also declined a request to rehear the agency’s decision. Earlier this month, Idaho regulators also denied approval finding that state law bars the transfer of regulated electric utility assets to an entity controlled by another state.
After Ontario’s general election last June, an agreement between the province and Hydro One resulted in the resignation and replacement of the utility’s board of directors and the retirement of the chief executive officer. Ontario also enacted a law restricting compensation of Hydro One’s executives and allowing the involvement of the government in issues typically reserved to the executive management and board.
Approvals from state regulatory commissions in Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Washington are required to complete the merger. Alaska, Montana, and federal regulators have approved the deal.
Hydro One is Ontario’s largest transmission and distribution service provider. Washington-based Avista is an electricity and gas utility serving Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.