Washington state regulators have declined to reconsider the proposed sale of Avista Corp. to Toronto-based Hydro One Ltd.
On Dec. 17, the two companies filed a petition for reconsideration with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission following its denial earlier in the month of the $5.3 billion sale of Avista to Hydro One. If the UTC had granted reconsideration, its decision could have extended the time frame for deliberations or modified its original decision.
The commission, which announced its reconsideration decision Tuesday, had a 20-day window to act on the petition but because it declined to take action, the companies’ request is denied by default.
The UTC initially rejected the sale 12 days earlier on Dec. 5, stating it doesn’t serve the best interest of Avista or customers. Commission members cited Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s politically motivated actions in July led to abruptly remove Hydro One’s chief executive officer and its board of directors.
Idaho regulators also blocked the sale, stating last week that the acquisition of Avista by Hydro One would violate a state law that prevents the sale of electric utility assets to an entity that is owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by any other state. Commissioners claimed the definition of “state” included the province of Ontario, which owns 47 percent of Hydro One’s stock.
Avista Corp. and Hydro One filed a joint application with the Washington commission in September 2017 asking it to approve the proposed merger agreement, which required approval from the UTC, federal authorities and state public utility commissions in the five states in which Avista operates.
Regulators in Alaska and Montana approved the sale last year. A decision by Oregon regulators is still pending.
The two companies said in a joint statement they were disappointed by the Washington commission’s announcement Tuesday. They indicated they would “determine the appropriate next steps.”