Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities last Thursday filed separate requests with the regulators in Washington and Oregon to adjust its natural gas and electric utility rates in those states. The utility said the changes are driven by increasing costs associated with meeting what it called “growing electric and natural gas demands of customers.”

In addition, in Washington, Avista is seeking an electric rate decrease tied to the “residential exchange program” with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

Overall, Avista asked the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) to increase its annual electric revenues $28.9 million, or an average of 8.8%, as one of three filings to the Washington panel. It is seeking the increase to be effective Feb. 1, 2007.

Separately, Avista requested a 1.7%, or $1.02/month, decrease in residential electric rates, effective Nov. 1, reflecting the decrease from the BPA credit.

For natural gas customers, Avista made separate annual purchased gas adjustments (PGA) filings with WUTC and the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC), asking for a $16.7 million, or 8.1%, increase in Washington, and $11 million, or 8.8%, in Oregon, with an effective date of Nov. 1 in each state. On average, gas utility customers face monthly increases of $6.90 and $6.64 in Washington and Oregon, respectively.

The utility said its PGAs reflect higher wholesale natural gas prices “caused by a tight balance between growing demand for and available supply of natural gas across North America.” Avista said they also reflect what it called “substantial increases” in rates by the two interstate pipeline companies supplying its gas distribution system.

Avista Corp. President Scott Morris said the utility “remains diligent” in providing customers the lowest-priced energy possible. “We do this by upgrading our infrastructure to get the most production and efficiencies as possible and by focusing our natural gas purchases in a way that helps mitigate the volatility in the current energy market.

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