Local power company Avista announced the recent acquisition of their company by Canadian owned company Hydro One. On the surface, this seems like another cross-border deal like so many that have happened over recent years, but if you start to dig a little deeper than the surface, a troubling story begins to arise. It' one that we in the local community may not understand all that well, but that could have serious implications to the future of the formerly owned power company that provides the lights for a giant slice of the North-West.
Firstly, the argument of selling essential utilities to foreign companies needs to be addressed. Yes, this is something that has happened for many years across many different utilities, yet that still doesn’t make it okay. Foreign powers have no interest in the needs of the local people, they are out to make a profit, as they should be, yet this doesn’t bode well for our local individuals who rely on this power source. It would be akin to selling our hospitals, our street care services, our waste management services, all for shareholders to make a buck, while seeing our service deteriorate as a result.
Secondly, we need to talk about Hydro One. It would be excusable for anyone reading this to not have an inkling of knowledge about this company, but those who are reliant on their services sure do. Customers of this company experience the highest cost of hydroelectric power in Canada, and this is completely due to mismanagement and bad deals made by the owners of the company, along with the Canadian government at the time. Hydro One is still over a billion dollars in debt, and yet this deal has still been made.
The ones who suffer for that debt, are the customers of the service. As a (primarily) provincially owned company, the customers of Hydro One have been on the hook for a “debt retirement” charge, which leads to their rates being so unequivocally high in the country, and this deal will only add to that. The reason why the debt is there in the first place? That mismanagement we spoke about earlier, led the company into a $20 billion-dollar debt crisis, that the province had to pick up the tab for. As a result, naturally inflating costs over the last decade have been yearly occurrences.
Both Hydro One and Avista state that there will be no change to the services or prices on our side of the border, and that there will also be no layoffs for those already employed on our side, yet this is coming from a company that, with a lower than par dollar, who bought the locally owned option out at 24% above market price, and is already well known for high prices, mismanagement, and a monopoly mentality. We’re not sure about you, but we’re already on our way to a nice local store to invest in a generator and some diesel.