By Anthony Capkun
July 28, 2014 – Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) says it has received notice July 25, 2014, from the Canadian Minister of Industry that its proposed $3.2-billion acquisition of AltaLink has been approved under the Investment Canada Act.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy is a consolidated subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, it owns and operates about 284,000 km of transmission and distribution lines in the States. BHE also owns or contracts more than 28,000MW of electricity generation.
BHE says it has committed that AltaLink will remain locally managed and incorporated under the laws of Canada, with its HQ, senior management team and operations located in Alberta. AltaLink’s independent board of directors will continue to consist of a majority of Canadians. There will be no reductions in employment levels at AltaLink as a result of the transaction.
The company also made a series of additional commitments to Canada in connection with the approval:
• Reinvest 100% of AltaLink’s earnings back into AltaLink, elsewhere in Alberta or other regions of Canada. This commitment will support AltaLink’s $2.7-billion investment in Alberta’s energy infrastructure planned over the next three years, subject to continued oversight by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) and the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).
• Spend at least $27 million to pursue joint development opportunities with Canadian partners in Canada and the States.
• Invest at least $3 million of new funds to support Alberta-based academic programs focused on energy-related topics, cultural organizations and community-based programs.
• Maintain AltaLink’s commitment to provide $3 million over three years in community and charitable contributions across Alberta.
• Share best practices, at no cost, with AltaLink on safety, customer satisfaction, cybersecurity and supplier diversity.
• Provide opportunities for Albertan and other Canadian companies to supply products and services to other BHE businesses.
The purchase of AltaLink continues to be subject to customary closing conditions, including the required approval by AUC. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
Meantime, Alberta ministers Cal Dallas and Diana McQueen issued a statement regarding the pending sale of AltaLink to Berkshire, saying “The approval from Industry Canada on the sale of AltaLink—from a Quebec-based company [SNC-Lavalin] to an American-based company—is one step in a review process that ensures Alberta’s interests and needs are reflected,” and “The proposed sale is still under review by the independent [AUC] to ensure there is no negative impact on rates, reliability and overall service”.
The ministers added “It is important to note that any company choosing to invest in Alberta’s transmission sector must respect and follow Alberta’s laws and regulations”.