Power Shift: Canadians buy Juneau electric company

Canadian power giant Hydro One will buy Avista, the parent company of Alaska Electric Light and Power, for $5.3 billion, it was announced Wednesday afternoon.

The resulting deal, which will close in the second half of 2018 (assuming regulatory approval), will make AEL&P part of one of the largest electric utilities in North America.

“Please understand that we would not enter into this transaction unless we were confident that Hydro One shared our culture, values and sense of commitment to employees, customers and community stakeholders; nor would we consent to this partnership without obtaining sufficient assurances that our local identity and connection to our communities would be preserved,” Avista said in a prepared statement.

In a press conference and joint statement Wednesday, the companies said no layoffs are planned and Avista will continue to operate much as it has before. Avista will keep its headquarters in Spokane, Washington, and “will continue to operate as a standalone utility in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.”

In a Q&A shared with company employees, Avista stated, “There will be no material impact to AEL&P. AEL&P will continue to deal directly with their employees and their local union.”

In a fact sheet, the companies stated: “This transaction will have no impact on Hydro One or Avista jobs or electricity rates.”

In an email to AEL&P employees, Avista Utilities president Dennis Vermillion said he will travel to Juneau on Monday to talk about the change.

Hydro One, with more than 5,500 employees, is three times as large as Avista, which has 1,700 employees.

While Hydro One has 1.3 million residential and business customers across Ontario, Avista has about 700,000 electricity and natural gas customers.

Hydro One, based in Toronto, is 49 percent owned by the government of Ontario. The company used to be majority owned by the government but has gradually been privatized under the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has been criticized for the privatization drive.

Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault told Canadian reporters that the government was pleased by the acquisition.

“It is expected to deliver clear benefits for the company’s customers, employees and shareholders, including the people of Ontario, given the government’s position as the single largest shareholder in Hydro One,” said Thibeault.

Alaska Electric Light and Power, Juneau’s hometown power company, was sold to Avista in 2013.

Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-258.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

Most Read