Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities on Wednesday gained approval Wednesday from Idaho regulators to raise its retail natural gas utility rates 5.2% this year with the bulk of the hike effective Monday. Retail electric rates for the combination utility will stay unchanged until Oct. 1 when a 1.9% power utility retail rate increase will start, according to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The rate changes are part of a settlement the PUC approved, dividing the gas hike into two parts: 4.9% effective Monday and 0.3% held until Oct. 1. Avista originally had proposed a 7.2% gas rate increase overall, and a 4.6% electric rate hike for Monday. The settlement precludes a separate base rate settlement from becoming effective until Jan. 1, 2015, the PUC said.

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