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South Slave

Northland loses appeal over price of assets in Hay River


The NWT Court of Appeal has dismissed Northland Utilities’ appeal regarding the price the Town of Hay River should pay to purchase its power distribution assets.

In 2016, Hay River’s town council voted not to renew its electricity distribution franchise agreement with Northland Utilities. The town opted instead to purchase the utility company’s assets to supply, transmit and distribute electricity within town limits itself. 

An arbitrator concluded the town could buy those assets for between $13,064,262 and $14,754,429. But Northland challenged the inclusion of diesel generators in the sale and argued Hay River should pay $39,974,082, almost three times the maximum cost determined in the arbitration decision. 

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The NWT Supreme Court initially dismissed Northland’s appeal but, shortly afterward, the Supreme Court of Canada changed its review standards and the case was sent to the appeal court.

In a written decision issued on Wednesday, the court of appeal agreed with Justice Andrew Mahar in dismissing the appeal. 

The appeal court found the arbitrator’s decision “fell within a range of reasonable, acceptable outcomes and was transparent, intelligible and defensible.”

“In short, it was reasonable,” the appeal court concluded.

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