Sep 15 , 2014
Today, Avista announced that it filed its annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) that if approved, could decrease natural gas rates for customers in Idaho by an overall 2.1 percent.
We’ve seen wholesale natural gas prices that were higher over the past year which was caused, in part, by a colder than normal winter throughout the United States. That colder than normal weather led to a higher level of natural gas usage by Avista’s customers, resulting in higher natural gas revenue, which offset the higher commodity costs.
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.
Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage of 60 Therms a Month
· Decrease of $1.16 or 2 percent
· Revised monthly bill of $58.32
· If the request is approved, it 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 here. You can also read about the annual Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) filed in Idaho as well as the settlement agreement reached to extend the current rate plan in Idaho.
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.
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.
· 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.
Mar 27 , 2013
Idaho customers provided more rate certainty over the next two years.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) has approved the multi-party settlement agreement in the electric and natural gas rate requests we filed last October. If you’re an Idaho natural gas customer, you’ll see two adjustments to your natural gas rates – April 1 and Oct. 1. Electric customers will see an adjustment on Oct. 1.
We’ve agreed not to request an increase in base retail rates that would take effect before Jan. 1, 2015. Other annual adjustments, such as for the cost of wholesale natural gas and purchased power, can still be requested since they are a separate part of your rate and have no impact on earnings. This means you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better manage your energy costs.
The bottom line
As a result of the approval, you’ll see two rate changes if you’re an Avista Idaho natural gas customer:
- Beginning April 1, if you use an average 60 therms of natural gas a month, you’ll see an increase of $2.82 a month for a revised bill of $55.37.
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an additional increase of $0.31 for a revised bill of $55.68.
If you’re an electric customer using an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month:
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an increase of $2.04 for a revised monthly bill of $80.73.
Feb 06 , 2013
Proposed settlement provides more certainty for customers to manage energy costs over the next two years
Today we announced a settlement agreement with several parties on the Idaho electric and natural gas general rate requests we filed back in October
. You can read our news release here
. The settlement, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or commission) would mean a two-phase rate increase in electric and natural gas rates. The first would take effect April 1, 2013 and the second on Oct. 1, 2013.
As part of the settlement, we’ve agreed not to request additional general rate increases that would take effect before Jan. 1 of 2015. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t adjust rates based on power supply or wholesale natural gas costs before then (remember, that’s a separate part of your bill). For more information about how we adjust those costs, read our Natural Gas Pricing 101
series or visit our website area About Natural Gas and Power Costs
But what it does mean is that you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better plan to manage your energy costs. And your energy prices will still be among the lowest in the nation
The bottom line
Here’s how the changes, if approved would affect your energy bill.
If the commission approves the settlement and you are an Avista electric customer, you would see one general rate increase:
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an increase of $2.04 per month, for a revised bill of $80.73.
Here’s how the changes, if approved, would affect you as a natural gas customer:
• Beginning April 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an increase of $2.82 a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.37.
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an additional increase of 31 cents a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.68.
The settlement and what’s next
You may be wondering what a rate case settlement agreement is and how it all works. When Avista files a request to increase rates, it goes through a process much like a legal proceeding. Parties representing various groups including residential, small-business, low-income and electric industrial customers, participate on behalf of their groups.
The commission oversees this process, and is charged with setting rates that are fair, just, and reasonable for customers, while allowing Avista the opportunity to earn a fair return on the investment shareholders make so we can continue delivering safe, reliable energy. When we can reach an agreement like this one, it saves time and the cost of a fully litigated rate case. It is ultimately up to the commission to approve the request.
In addition to Avista, the parties to the proposed settlement are the Staff of the IPUC, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Idaho Forest Group and The Idaho Conservation League. The IPUC will establish a procedural schedule to gather comments on the proposed settlement from parties to the rate case, as well as customers of Avista, prior to making a decision. For more information, see the IPUC website
Here is another resource about how energy rates are set that you might find helpful.
Dec 26 , 2012
Households that are having trouble paying their heating bills this winter will receive help as the result of $226,000 in donations Avista and our employees made to Project Share (see news release).
An additional $100,000 is going to 19 human care service organizations in eastern Washington chosen by our CAREs representatives (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service).
“We know that the economy of our service territory continues to be depressed and that it is difficult for families to make ends meet. The organizations receiving these Project Share and CARES donations are an important safety net, and they provide important assistance that helps those most in need meet the costs of housing, food and medicine, and keeping their homes warm this winter,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp.
Project Share will receive $226,000 from Avista and its employees. The program, which is administered by SNAP in eastern Washington and by community action programs in other areas of our service territory, provides emergency grants to help families meet energy costs regardless of the fuel used to heat their home. In 2011, more than 2,100 households received emergency energy assistance through Project Share. The funds for this donation come from company profits and employee donations and are not included as a cost to customers in developing rates.
“This donation is another amazing example of Avista taking the initiative to support our neighbors during difficult times,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “We greatly value this collaborative effort that continues to be a vital benefit to our community. More homes will stay warm throughout the winter because of this.”
Additionally, Avista is partnering with 19 community service agencies in eastern Washington to make grants for energy assistance to qualifying Avista customers in need this winter.
Avista has contributed a total of $100,000 to the agencies for customers who have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources. The organizations were identified by Avista’s CARES representatives, who are specially trained and who work closest with our most vulnerable customers.
The funds for the CARES donations come from a state utility tax credit Avista receives that is associated with our low-income energy assistance programs.
Dec 17 , 2012
$28,150 donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon
Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank
last fall. .
For some residents of the Pacific Northwest, feeding their families can be one of the biggest challenges they face each month. Forty-seven food banks in Avista’s service territory
will have a bit more money to stock their shelves in the months ahead as the result of grants issued by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation. A total of $28,150 has been donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon by Avista Corp.
and the Avista Foundation.
“Community food banks are providing vital safety-net services in the communities we serve. Through their buying power and relationships with food producers, the food banks are able to leverage donations like ours to bring several times their value to help stock the shelves for those in need,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp. “Helping limited income families and seniors meet their nutritional needs is an important part of our emphasis on providing assistance to reduce poverty in the communities served by Avista Utilities.”
In addition, Avista employees donated $8,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank during “Tom’s Turkey Drive,” a Thanksgiving event sponsored by KREM television. Avista Foundation matched that amount, for a total donation to Second Harvest of $16,000.
Funding for donations, other than employee gifts, comes from foundation funds and company profits. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.
Nov 28 , 2012
This hydroelectric dam on the Clark Fork River is still a youngster at 60 years old
Whenever you flip a light switch, plug in an appliance, or turn on your furnace, you expect and receive energy on demand. Since the completion of our very first hydroelectric project in 1890, Avista’s dams have generated dependable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible power for our customers.
We’ve been celebrating the 60th anniversary of one of our youngest dams, Cabinet Gorge, throughout the year. Recently we had a banner produced that will hang in the control center at the dam. In November, Avista received special recognition from Idaho Lt. Governor Brad Little. The Lieutenant Governor presented a proclamation honoring
the contribution of Cabinet Gorge to the region and the state of Idaho.
This year also marks the 14th year of successful, collaborative implementation of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources associated with our Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project. The agreement, signed in 1999 after several years of negotiation, resulted in a 45-year operating license from FERC to operate Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.
With growing development of renewable energy like wind and solar, which depend on variable fuel sources, our dams are even more important as a dependable source of energy. Water can be stored and hydropower plants can be fired up quickly to meet energy need when the wind isn’t blowing.
Oct 11 , 2012
This special service dog lent a paw, at Avista's recent
energy fair in Idaho.
Nearly 200 people - and one very special service dog - attended Avista’s Energy Fair at the Hayden Family Center in Coeur d’Alene yesterday.
The gymnasium was buzzing with conversations about how to keep cold air outside the home this winter by installing items like window plastic and outlet covers to keep drafts from coming indoors. The materials were provided free as part of the energy efficiency tote bag every attendee received as they arrived. Community partners, including the Idaho Department of Labor, ElderHelp of Idaho and the Community Action Partnership talked with fair-goers about the community services and resources available in Kootenai County.
Once the learning was done, warm servings of chili and cornbread quenched the appetites of young and old alike, served up by the ladies from Christ Kitchen, a non-profit that provides job training for women and delicious catering for us to enjoy.
The Avista Energy Fair is one of several outreach activities our company shares with the communities we serve. It gives us an opportunity to personally share information with our customers in locations close to your homes and businesses – making it more convenient for you to find the answers to your questions.
The final Energy Fair for 2012 is scheduled for Thursday, November 8 at Spokane’s East Central Community Center, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more here.
Oct 11 , 2012
If increases are approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year
This power pole in Hayden, Idaho, has deteriorated
to the point where it needs to be replaced. We have
over 240,000 distribution poles in our electric system.
Based on a 40-year depreciable life, we would need
to replace approximately 6,000 poles every year.
If our requests are approved and you’re an electric residential customer in Idaho using an average of 930 kilowatt hours per month, you would see an increase of $4.20 per month, or about 14 cents a day, for a revised bill of $82.89. If you’re a natural gas customer using an average of 60 therms per month, you would see an increase of $4.12, or about 14 cents a day, for a revised monthly bill of $56.67. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has up to seven months to approve our requests, and the increases wouldn’t take effect until sometime next year.
You may be thinking we just heard about a rate decrease, so why an increase? The costs of delivering energy to you safely and reliably continue to rise. We work hard to manage our costs, while making sure you have the reliable energy that you expect, at some of the lowest prices in the Northwest. The good news is we’ve been able to pass savings from lower natural gas prices and power costs through to you with multiple rate decreases, and we hope this will help soften the impact of the rising costs of delivery to your energy bill.
Rates have decreased throughout 2012
Effective Oct. 1, if you are an Idaho customer, you saw decreases in both natural gas and electric rates
because of lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs, after the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved our rate decrease requests filed in July. Your rates have decreased your natural gas rates twice this year, dropping them by approximately 12 percent overall. In fact, even if today’s rate increase request is approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year – and around what they were 10 years ago. Electric rates have remained fairly flat as well when you adjust for inflation.
We’re maintaining and upgrading our system for you
Maintaining and upgrading our energy-delivery system is ongoing, and costs more with each passing year. It’s a little like taking care of your home or car. You always have maintenance and operation costs, and sometimes you have to upgrade or update old equipment with new. And that’s expensive. For instance, if you remodel your kitchen, new appliances cost much more than the old ones did when they were purchased.
To serve all of our customers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, Avista has an extensive system that we have to take care of. To do this, we expect to invest approximately $250 million each year for the next three to five years to continue updating and maintaining our system to serve our customers’ energy needs.
Help is available if you’re struggling with bills
We realize in these difficult economic times it can be a struggle for people to meet their basic needs. We offer services for customers such as comfort level billing, payment arrangements and CARES (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Services) representatives. Our CARES reps are specially-trained employees who provide referrals to area agencies and churches for customers with special needs for help with housing, utilities, medical assistance, and other needs. To learn more, visit www.avistautilities.com