Having put new natural gas and electric general rate increases in effect earlier in October, Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities looks at changes in its purchased gas and power mechanisms that could result in slight increases covering its fuel purchasing costs, effective Nov. 1.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Friday said it is taking comments on Avista's proposed rate changes through Thursday. The proposed changes relate to the fact that two rate credits that electric and gas customers now receive will expire Oct. 31, a PUC spokesperson said.

Changes in the purchased gas cost adjustment and a power credit with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) emerged following the Oct. 1 effective date for electric and gas general rate hikes coming out of a PUC-approved settlement last month -- retail power charges increased by 9.25% spread over three years and natural gas retail increases of 2.6% spread over the next two years. An initial power rate increase of 3.59% and a natural gas hike of 1.9% went into effect Oct. 1 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 4).

"Wholesale gas prices continue to decline but not at the same level as last year when customers received an average 22% decrease," said the spokesperson, noting that as a result Avista is proposing an average 4.3% increase for its Idaho gas customers, an average of about $2.75/month for a typical residential customer.

The electric adjustment is due to BPA reducing the size of the federal power credit it is making available to residential and small farm customers of investor-owned utilities like Avista. Avista's current credit is 0.289 cents/kWh and BPA is reducing that to 0.147 cents/kWh, following a settlement between the federal power marketer/transporter and the Washington state-based combination utility.

"The reduced credit will increase an average residential customer's bill in Idaho by about 1.65%, the spokesperson said.

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