Avista customers in Washington will see an overall 7 percent decrease in electric rates if the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves a recent request to lower rates. The new rate would take effect February 12 if approved by the WUTC.
This decrease centers on the removal of a surcharge. The Energy Recovery Mechanism - or ERM - was in place to recover extraordinary changes in certain power supply costs that are above or below the amount included in customer base rates.
“The surcharge was mainly caused by below-normal hydroelectric conditions and higher natural gas prices for thermal generation in previous years,” said Kelly Norwood, Avista vice president of state and federal regulation, in a media release today. “The combination of a decline in natural gas prices, near-normal hydroelectric conditions in the past year, and the collection of prior-period costs now allows us to eliminate the surcharge.”
Requests to lower rates, such as this one, take considerably less time to approve than increase requests. (We filed it last Friday, Jan. 8). The WUTC has up to 11 months to approve rate increase requests. The WUTC issued a decision on Avista’s most recent Washington general rate case on Dec. 22, 2009. That rate case, which was originally filed in January 2009, resulted in a 2.8 percent increase in electric rates and 0.3 percent increase in gas rates.
Idaho electric customers might be asking, “What about us?” Idaho doesn’t use the ERM mechanism like Washington, but rather uses a similar mechanism called a Power Cost Adjustment (PCA). The Idaho PCA was adjusted with a general rate case ruling effective August 1, 2009. Read, “Multiple Idaho rate adjustments result in slight increase
.” The PCA portion of that ruling was a 4.2 percent decrease.