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Washington Utilities Commission Questions Avista, Hydro One Officials About Acquisition


Washington state regulators spent more than four hours Tuesday asking questions to officials from Avista Utilities about their proposed merger with the Ontario-based company Hydro One.

Utilities and Transportation Commission members have concerns with how the Spokane utility might be affected by moves made by the provincial government of Ontario.

The concerns stemmed from a shakeup earlier this year in Hydro One's board of directors, which came after voters elected a premier who promised to lower electric rates and cut executive pay. The board and CEO stepped down.

In recent interview with SPR, Avista CEO Scott Morris said he believes the wording of the proposed merger deal insulates the Spokane utility from that type of government interference.

“This is structured in a way that is durable and for the long term, and in a way it really didn’t matter what happened in Ontario around politics and boards and CEO’s. The issues that we’ve put in place in order to ensure that Avista maintains its ability to serve its customers, stakeholders, no matter who is on the board or who is CEO of Hydro One, and that is the critical piece to make sure it all works for us,” Morris said.

If the merger is approved by several different state commissions, Avista would operate as a Hydro One subsidiary, with a separate board of directors to run Avista’s operations.

Commissions in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho are deliberating the sale.

Montana's and Alaska's public utility commissions already have approved the sale.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.