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Sierra Pacific, Avista Announce Senior Exec Changes

Two western utilities this week announced changes at the top -- one at Sierra Pacific Resources effective immediately, and the other at Avista Corp. scheduled to be phased in at the beginning of next year. Both companies have been reporting increased earnings at their respective utilities in recent years. Sierra Pacific is scheduled to announce its results Friday.

Sierra's Michael Yackira, 55, was named president and COO of the Nevada utility holding company, relinquishing his previous executive vice president/CFO role. The company named a new CFO, William D. Rogers, 46, who had been the company's treasurer since June 2005. Yackira spent 11 years at the FPL Group in Florida before coming to Sierra Pacific Resources in 2003, and Rogers is a Wall Street veteran, serving as managing director of debt capital markets for Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York City before joining Sierra. He previously had held a similar position with JP Morgan Chase.

Spokane, WA-based Avista announced last Monday that CEO Gary Ely was retiring the end of this year, and that Scott Morris, the current president/COO, would replace him. Morris also became a member of Avista's board of directors, effective immediately. He will assume the chairman/CEO duties Jan. 1 next year. Ely joined Avista 40 years ago as an engineer, and Morris, 49, came to the company in 1981 as a marketing employee.

On Wednesday, Avista reported its fourth quarter 2006 earning were off, compared to the same quarter in 2005, but its overall 2006 earnings exceeded the results for all of 2005 -- $18 million, or 36 cents/diluted share for the fourth quarter last year and $73.1 million, or $1.47/diluted share, for all of 2006, compared with $25.4 million, or 52 cents/diluted share, and $45.2 million, or 92 cents/diluted share, respectively, for the same periods in 2005.

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