Washington state denies Avista’s sale to Canadian utility

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state regulators have denied the proposed $5.3 billion sale of Spokane, Washington-based Avista Corp. to a Canadian utility.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission said in Wednesday’s order that the proposed merger with Toronto-based Hydro One Ltd. doesn’t adequately protect Avista or the utility’s customers from political or financial risk.

The three-member commission raised concerns about political influence by the Ontario government on operations. The province is Hydro One’s largest shareholder, with a 47 percent stake in the company.

An email and call to Hydro One was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Public utility commissions in Montana and Alaska have approved the proposed merger, with decisions pending in Idaho and Oregon.

Spokane-based Avista serves electric and natural gas customers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon.