An increased surcharge to pay for energy efficiency programs went into effect last Saturday for Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities, but it is subject to a review by Idaho regulators that got under way Monday. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will take comments on Avista’s higher charges through Aug. 28.

Avista received rate adjustments up and down for both retail natural gas and electric utility customers on July 17, including an increase in the rider amounting to 1.5% for electric customers and 1.2% for gas customers (see Daily GPI, July 21).

“The commission directed that the energy efficiency rider portions of the adjustment be made effective Aug. 1 on a temporary basis to avoid having several rate adjustments within a short period of time,” a PUC spokesperson said. “If the commission finds that the company has not demonstrated a need for an increase, the rider account will be adjusted in the near future to accommodate the commission’s findings.”

The rider funds more than 30 programs — either demand-side management (DSM) or energy efficiency.

Avista said it faced shortfalls in its efficiency rider funding of $2.36 million for electricity and another $1 million for gas. The utility proposed and received an increase in the electric rider from 2.24% to 3.27%, and from 1.55% to 2.6% in the gas rider.

Avista’s DSM and efficiency funding provides financial incentives or rebates for customers participating in any one of its 30 programs. For its Idaho operations, Avista claims it has more than 110 average megawatts (aMW) in DSM programs. The utility’s retail average load in Idaho is 1,100 aMW.

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