The Public Utilities Board rules that the sale of electric assets to the City of Hay River can proceed


The eight-year dispute between the city of Hay River and former company Northland Utilities over how the city supplies electricity appears to be over.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) ruled late last month that the transfer of assets from Naka Power, formerly known as Northland Utilities, to NWT Power Corporation would cause “no harm.” In its decision, the board noted that the purchase and sale of the assets was “in the public interest” and that the sale of Naka to the energy company. must be done before December 31st of this year.

Under its old name, Northland had argued that if the energy company. Had the company been allowed to take control of Hay River, it would have engaged in what it called “cream skimming,” a term the company said is defined as “the removal of inherently more profitable components of a utility's customer base.” “Leading to a vicious cycle of upward pressure on prices for remaining customers.”

In other words, Northland claimed that the transfer of assets to the energy company. would affect his ability to conduct business elsewhere in the southern slave region.

The city indicated back in 2015 that it would explore its options when it issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a new service provider following the expiration of the agreement between the city and Northland in November 2016. The city stated that the reason for the RFP was to “ensure that the city’s residents and businesses receive the lowest possible electricity rates as part of safe and reliable service.”

The PUB found that Northland was entitled to participate in the tender like any other provider. The energy company's proposal was ultimately accepted by the city.

The city made Northland an offer to purchase the assets in March 2016, but Northland rejected the offer and arbitration was initiated. An arbitrator ruled in 2018 that a fair price for the assets was equal to book value plus 30 percent under a partial final award; By its calculations, Northland had valued the assets at approximately three times their alleged value.

Northland appealed the arbitrator's decision to the NWT Supreme Court in 2019, where it was overturned. The company then appealed to the NWT Court of Appeal, which also dismissed Northland's claims. The final option was to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which did not hear the case.

The PUB also ruled that Northland could not recover legal costs from the city or residents, estimated at about $520,000, but could recover any debt relief fees and any employee severance payments.

When it comes to the city's legal fees, the energy company must take into account: is responsible for this, the PUB explained, and it cannot recoup this money by increasing prices for its customers.

Essentially, the city won't be out of pocket at all.

Glenn Smith, the city's chief administrative officer, did not respond to NNSL Media's request for comment as of press time, but Nancy Southern, president and CEO of ATCO, which owns Naka Power along with Denendeh Investments Inc., responded last weekend GNWT in sight Yellow knife.

As CKLB reported, Southern, who was attending an Indigenous business conference, had rather pointed words for Deputy Prime Minister Caroline Wawzonek, who was among the attendees and is also the minister responsible for the energy company.

“Well, I think for all of you, particularly the deputy premier, and for all of you in the Northwest Territories government, we've been talking over the last two days about incentivizing investment and getting things right with investors to build a prosperous company “We want to strengthen the future of mining, provide security and create the opportunity to invest in the Northwest Territories,” she said.

“And our investment. Your investment as Dene was taken away from the people. I don't think it sends the best messages to future investors. And it certainly doesn’t send the message we’ve heard from Dene leaders and investors over the last two days, that they have the ability to both control their future and invest in their own future.”

Wawzonek reportedly refused to speak when asked about the matter.