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.
Articles from Spokane
With significantly reduced profits for 4Q2012 and all of last year, Spokane, WA-based Avista Corp. senior management pledged Wednesday to better manage costs at its utility and related operations, and to push for more growth initiatives this year, including the spread of natural gas for use in transportation.
Idaho regulators last Friday asked for stakeholder and general public comments on a long-term planning document by Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities that forecasts 20 years of low gas prices and demand by its retail residential and business natural gas customers in the northern panhandle of the state.
A combination of slackened demand and robust production will make natural gas supplies plentiful in the Pacific Northwest until 2029 at least, Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities recently told regulators in the three states in which it has gas and electric operations.
Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities’ retail natural gas rates for residential customers in Ohio dropped about 5.7% as the result of periodic adjustments for changes in wholesale gas prices. The tariff was decreased from 41.8 cents/therm to 36.2 cents/therm, based on the changes approved earlier by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC), providing a decrease of about $3.46 on the average residential customer’s monthly bill. Large commercial customer rates decreased by about 7.3%. Rates are adjusted by the PUC at least once a year based on a purchased gas cost adjustment mechanism, which has shown steady decreases in recent years with the continuing fall in wholesale gas prices.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission’s (UTC) regulatory staff reached agreement with Avista Utilities on Friday regarding the Spokane, WA-based utility’s proposed increase in retail natural gas and power rates. The three-member UTC still has to review and approve the deal.
Idaho regulators have scheduled a hearing for Sept. 13 to take public comments on a settlement that would result in a net rate decrease for Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities’ natural gas and electric retail utility customers in northern Idaho. In July Avista applied for gas and power rate increases averaging 2.7% and 3.7%, respectively, but the proposed settlement would allow much smaller average increases of 1.6% and 1.1%, effective Oct. 1. With several other rate adjustments for the combination utility, customers face the prospect of overall decreases of about 1% for gas and 2.4% for electricity. In addition, as part of the deal Avista would not seek another increase in base rates from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) before April 1, 2013. The three PUC commissioners will conduct a combination public and technical hearing Sept. 13 in Coeur d’Alene, ID.
Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities has several natural gas and electric rate adjustments before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC), asking that they be put in effect Oct. 1 with a net result of a slight increase in retail gas charges and a decrease in retail power charges.
Idaho regulators have begun investigating proposed natural gas and electric generation rate increases for Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities, which serves 122,500 retail electric customers and 74,200 gas customers in the northern part of the state. Avista is seeking a 3.7%, or $9 million, annual electric rate hike and a 2.7%, or $1.9 million, increase annually on the gas side. Overall, Avista is asking for an 8.49% rate of return and a 10.9% return on equity. The utility asked for an Aug. 5 effective date and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC)suspended the gas and electric increase requests for six month to allow time for the PUC’s standard review. In the meantime, Avista’s Idaho customers will see rate hikes Oct. 1 — 3.9% on the power side and 0.72% for gas — based on the second-year payment of a settlement for Avista’s general rate case last year. The earlier case increased electric rates 9.25% and gas 1.9% over a two-year period for Avista.
Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities has asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to lower the efficiency rider it maintains on retail customer electric and natural gas utility bills in the northern part of the state. Avista is seeking a reduction in the gas efficiency rider that will reduce overall bills an average of 4.2%. This latest action is separate from two pending applications at the Idaho PUC to raise Avista gas and electric retail rates. The rider charges are used to fund about 30 different gas and electric efficiency programs. The utility estimates that last year the efficiency programs saved about 1.9 million therms of natural gas (85% of the utility’s goal) and 68,911 MWh of electricity (105% of its goal). Revenue collected from the riders can be used only for efficiency programs, Avista said.