For lack of state regulatory approval in Oregon, one of three states in which it operates, Spokane, WA-based Avista Corp. has abandoned long-standing plans to establish a holding company. The Avista board of directors last Thursday decided to throw in the towel, despite receiving nearly all of the needed state and federal approvals.

In 2006 Avista’s board decided to pursue a share exchange that would have changed the company’s organization to a holding company structure (see Power Market Today, Feb. 16, 2006). To be named at a later time, the holding company was to be the parent of Avista Utilities and all other Avista subsidiaries.

The proposal had been approved by Avista’s shareholders and received conditioned approvals from both the Washington state and Idaho regulatory commissions, along with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, the utility never could reach agreement on what it called “acceptable terms and conditions” with stakeholders in the proceeding at the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

Initially Avista expected to wrap up the reorganization and creation of the holding company by the end of 2006.

Avista CEO Scott Morris expressed disappointment that the utility couldn’t crack through with an acceptable agreement in Oregon. Nevertheless, Morris said Avista’s “continuing progress” with its finances will not be affected by the lack of a holding company. He reiterated that progress is being made in “strengthening our financial performance.”

In May Avista was boosted to investment-grade credit ratings by Fitch (from “BB+” to “BBB-“), giving the utility investment-grade ratings from all three major rating agencies (see Daily GPI, May 27).

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