Jul 31 , 2014

Today, Avista announced that it filed its annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) and related filings with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) that if approved, could increase natural gas rates for customers in Oregon by an overall 10.4 percent. The primary reason for an increase is increased wholesale costs, driven in part by the colder than normal winter across the country.

 

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

The PGA is an annual adjustment that balances the actual cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista with the amount already included in current rates - we do not mark up the cost of natural gas to meet customer needs. We file the PGA each year, and costs can go up or down, based on the cost of wholesale natural gas.

 

Average Customer Bill Impact (Based on average usage of 47 therms per month)

 

If approved, the filing would include:

·         An increase of $5.45 or 9.7 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $61.42

·         If the request is approved, new rates would take effect on Nov. 1, 2014

 

Current Natural Gas Bill

Approximately 55 percent of an Avista customer’s natural gas bill is the cost of purchasing and transporting natural gas and 45 percent of the bill is delivery of natural gas to our customers, by Avista.

 

Read the full news release.

Published: 7/31/2014  1:52 PM | 2  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 30 , 2014

Today, Avista announced we have filed two annual rate adjustment requests in Idaho including the the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Residential Exchange Program. If approved, these filings would increase electric rates beginning Oct. 1, 2014.

 

You may recall that we told you about a settlement that we reached in Idaho that would not raise base retail rates through a general rate case in Idaho prior to Jan. 1, 2016.

 

Base rates are those that cover the total cost of providing electricity and natural gas service to customers. This includes generating and purchasing energy as well as the delivery of that energy to customers. The PCA is used to track one piece of base rates - the actual costs for generating and purchasing electric power to serve customers.

The PCA and Residential Exchange Program filings are annual adjustment filings which occur outside of a general rate case.

 

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)

The PCA is an annual rate adjustment made to reflect certain differences between Avista’s actual cost of generating and purchasing electric power to serve customers and the cost currently included in customer rates.

 

·         Power supply costs were higher in 2013 due primarily to increased fuel costs and power purchase expense, some of which was required to replace the energy lost due to an outage at Unit #4 at the our Colstrip Generating Plant.

·         Part of the proposed PCA rate adjustment is related to the expiration of a rebate to customers. Beginning in October 2013, Avista began passing through to customers a one-year rebate of approximately $4.6 million related to last year’s PCA. That rebate will end Sept. 30, 2014.

·         The proposed PCA would pass through to customers $7.8 million in increased power supply costs that occurred over the last 12 months.

 

Residential Exchange Program

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Residential Exchange Program provides a share of the benefits of the federal Columbia River power system to the residential and small farm customers of the investor-owned utilities in the Pacific Northwest. We apply the benefits we receive, which typically fluctuate from year to year, to customers as a credit on their monthly electric bill.

 

The benefit Avista will receive from BPA starting in Oct. 2014 will be higher than the current level of benefits currently being passed through to applicable customers.

 

Customer Bill Impact (Based on average usage of 930 kilowatt hours per month)

The results of the PCA and Residential Exchange Program filings would include:

 

·         Increase of $3.45 or 4.2 percent per month

·         Revised monthly bill from $81.88 to $85.33

·         If the filing requests are approved, the changes would take effect on Oct. 1, 2014

 

Read the news release here.

 

Published: 7/30/2014  4:04 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 14 , 2014
 

Today, Avista announced that a settlement has been reached to extend the current rate plan in Idaho. The settlement proposes that there would be no increase in base retail rates for customers prior to 2016.

 

What Does This Mean?

The extension of the current rate plan provides rate stability for customers and is the result of a collaborative process. It is an outcome that is beneficial for our customers and the company.

 

This includes:

·         Unchanged base retail rates

·         Maintained level of rebates that customers currently receive

·         The opportunity to balance the recovery of costs of providing safe and reliable energy and the company’s opportunity to earn a fair return

 

Details of the Proposed Settlement

The details of the proposed settlement demonstrate what can be a complex process and topic.

·         Replacement of two rebates that are set to expire on Jan. 1, 2015 that are currently reducing customers’ monthly energy bills by 1.3 percent on the electric side and 1.7 percent on the natural gas side.

·          An estimated $3.7 million increase in pre-tax margin in 2015 for Idaho operations.

·          Deferral of the majority of costs related to completion of Avista’s customer information system upgrades in 2015, as well as a change in the timing of expenses related to operations and maintenance (O&M) costs pertaining to its Colstrip and Coyote Springs 2 thermal generating facilities.

·          Use of any deferral balance resulting from the 2014 Idaho earnings test to support up to a 9.5 percent return on equity (ROE) in 2015.

·          If the company earns more than its currently authorized 9.8 percent ROE in 2015, 50 percent of the earnings above 9.8 percent would be deferred for future ratemaking.

 

PGA and PCA Adjustments

The proposed settlement applies to base rates. Avista will file annual rate adjustments including the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) and Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA). These adjustments balance the actual costs of purchasing or generating energy and natural gas to serve customers and the amounts currently covered in rates, and are typically filed in the third quarter every year.

 

The settlement has been filed with and must be approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Commission).

 

Read the announcement news release.
Published: 7/14/2014  1:07 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 09 , 2014

2014 Shared Value Report Cover

 

A lot of things can change in 125 years, but Avista’s commitment to innovation, collaboration and providing safe reliable power is as consistent today as it was in 1889. With the launch of our sixth annual report on our operations – 125 Years of Shared Value – our stakeholders can see how the work we do today and our legacy of delivering shared value remains a core component of how we operate.

 

Avista’s purpose is to improve life’s quality with energy – safely, reliably and responsibly. Our Shared Value Report bring this to life by providing a comprehensive look at how our business operates and the work that goes into making this purpose a reality for our stakeholders. The content highlighted in the report demonstrates how the work we do across the company to provide energy not only powers homes and businesses, it serves as a means for creating value and making a lasting impact on those we serve.

 

As sustainability reporting and our reports have evolved over time, there has been an increased focus on materiality – what our stakeholders have told us is relevant to them. We have listened, and this year you will see the material topics called out throughout the report with icons. Our intent is that the icons will make it easier for readers to find the information they want.

 

You’ll also see stories that demonstrate shared value and our commitment to our customers, communities and the environment. Highlights include:

 

·         Using goats as a means for taking care of noxious weeds in an environmentally friendly way

·         Philanthropic giving of approximately $1.5 million through the Avista Foundation and Avista Corp.

·         Employees’ donation of 46,500 volunteer hours

·         Partnering with agencies and communities to complete activities that maintain and restore habitat and wetlands related to our operations on  the Spokane and Clark Fork Rivers

·         Implementing keyhole technology for repairing natural gas lines as a way to find efficiencies for customers and the utility

·         Driving economic prosperity through involvement in community initiatives such as the Palouse Basin Water Summit, Coeur d’Alene 2030 Community Visioning and more

 

As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published only online. A PDF file can be downloaded for your convenience in reading the report or sharing it with others.

 

Shared value is at the heart of what Avista does every day. We hope you’ll take the time to read this year’s report and give us your feedback by email at SharedValue@avistacorp.com. We want to hear from you about how we can continue to build shared value.

 

Published: 7/9/2014  8:45 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 09 , 2014
 
 
Dr. Grant Forsyth
We all wish we could look into a crystal ball and see what the future brings, especially for our region’s economy. At Avista, we need to know what our customers’ needs will be 5, 10, or even 15 years down the road. There’s no crystal ball, so we use data and research to help inform decision makers and forecast our own economic climate so that we can continue to serve the same low-cost, reliable power to customers that we’ve provided for the last 125 years.
 
Leading the way is our Chief Economist, Dr. Grant Forsyth. From both a company and community standpoint, Grant is widely recognized as the resident expert when it comes to providing data that helps internal and external leaders make informed research-based decisions that benefit all of us. 
 
Within Avista, Grant spends much of his time running statistical models to forecast energy load, which helps plan for future energy needs. He also serves as a consultant on special projects, where his research background as a Ph.D. and an Eastern Washington University professor of economics for more than a decade, make him a perfect fit for Avista.
 
“At Avista, people reach out to me for empirical data for special projects,” Grant said. “For example, we had somebody in health and safety that needed an analysis of languages spoken in our service territory. With my academic research background, I knew where to go to get the data and maintain the database for them.”
 
Grant’s teaching experience also serves an external purpose in his position: public speaking. Any given day, he speaks to local and regional groups of 5 to 500 or more.  He keynotes events like Greater Spokane Inc.’s Annual Economic Forecast, meets with local business groups and community leaders, and serves on a variety of local and state economic councils, including the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Spokane Mayor’s Council on Economic Vitality .
 
“I’m a resource for both businesses and the general public,” Grant said. “I often get inquiries about economic issues or what unemployment numbers are telling us. I have a lot of data and research at my fingertips, so I try my best to explain what the numbers mean rather than taking a position one way or the other.”
 
Well-versed in the economics locally and nationally, Grant is originally from Ellensburg, Wash., but has lived and worked in both the United States and Europe.
 
Cool fact: Grant worked in the Czech Republic from 1996 to 1999 during a time when the country was transitioning from one political and economic system to another.
 
Watch this Blog for future entries from Grant himself about the economics of our region.
Published: 7/9/2014  8:03 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post