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Hearings Set for Avista Rate Case

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hold a series of public hearings in various parts of the state served by Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities to gain public input on Avista's proposed general rate increases of $2.7 million for natural gas and $31.2 million for electricity utility customers, or 3% and 12.8%, respectively, the PUC said Friday.

In late January Avista asked the PUC for a net electric rate increase and a natural gas hike. The request for electric retail rates was a 12.8% rate hike to be was offset by a 5% reduction in the current power cost adjustment. Avista serves 121,000 electric and 93,000 gas customers in Idaho. The PUC subsequently suspended the rate request and began an assessment (see Power Market Today, Feb. 17).

Avista has said the increases are needed to keep up with demand growth in Idaho and to update its aging gas and electric infrastructure, including power lines, plants, poles and substations, which require an annual investment of $200 million.

The PUC has scheduled workshops for May 12-13 in Sandpoint and Lewiston, ID. More hearings are scheduled for June 16-17 in Moscow and Coeur d'Alene, ID. Technical hearings will begin June 29 and will continue for up to three days, according to a PUC spokesperson. Written comments from customers will be accepted through July 1. Commission staff and intervenors in the case must file written testimony by May 29 and any rebuttal testimony by June 19.

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