Ontario Coal Power?

Reevely: How Ontario is getting back into the coal-power business

David Reevely
David Reevely

 July 20, 2017 2:15 PM EDT

Ontario taxpayers will soon be part-owners of one of the biggest coal-fired power plants in America west of the Mississippi River, making money off pollution in the U.S. Northwest that would be illegal to emit at home.

That’s business, and when the government goes into business, money talks.

It’s part of the package in Hydro One’s multibillion-dollar purchase of Avista Utilities, which the former Ontario government property announced Wednesday. Now that the province has sold 60 per cent of what used to be the transmission arm of Ontario Hydro, it’s looking for acquisitions and partnerships and it found a big one. Between them, they’ll be a $32-billion company, with Hydro One paying $6.4 billion to make Avista a subsidiary once the deal closes in 2018.

Avista is based in Spokane and it distributes electricity and natural gas in Washington state, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, with an outpost in Alaska. Hydro One is on the far side of the continent and the two companies’ territories don’t come close to overlapping but Hydro One figures that combined, the two can save money on bulk purchasing and combining back-office stuff like computer systems.

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