What it means to be a regulated utility   


Washington and Idaho
Starting on Sunday Sept. 27, and continuing on for the next few weeks throughout our service territory, we’ll be running paid media about being a regulated utility. The ad will run twice in each of our service territory newspapers.

People often ask me why we change our rates (up or down). I wish the answer was simple each time, but with the complicated nature of the electric and natural gas utility industry, there are always many reasons backing up every action.

I think we’ve done a pretty decent job on this blog explaining our actions about rates, but there is always this ever-present question hanging over the conversation, “Isn’t Avista a monopoly?” This question implies that we’re unregulated. That is certainly not true. We’re a regulated utility in three states and we can’t simply raise our rates whenever we want.

Here’s an example: when costs go up, some types of businesses can respond by simply raising their prices. We’re different. We’re a regulated utility – and because we’re regulated, our rates are set through a long, detailed and transparent public process.

The bottom line is that our rates can’t change without state approval.

We’re using paid media such as the newspaper ads linked here to reach you directly. Let’s head off an obvious question – why pay for ads when you can just insert something in my bill? The truth is (and if you’re being honest, you’ll agree), you probably don’t read everything that comes in your monthly paper bill or e-bill.

This is an important topic that we want you to be knowledgeable about, so we’re spreading the word this way. We want to share this story and get your thoughts on it. You can send us an e-mail, or comment on this post – or any post – for all customers to see. You can also find out more about being a regulated utility on our Conversation page.

Over the last few months we’ve been able to use e-mail, blogs, twitter, discussion forums, in-person meetings and paid media to have real-life conversations with thousands of you out there.

I’m confident that this frank dialog will continue to be beneficial for us all.
Posted by  System Account  on  9/25/2009
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