Aug 18 , 2014
Today, Avista announced that a full settlement agreement has been reached in Washington.
You may recall we filed a general rate request on Feb. 4, 2014 to increase electric and natural gas base rates in Washington that would support the ongoing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve our customers. Facilities like our 106-year-old South Channel Dam in Post Falls, Idaho and 106-year-old Powerhouse in Nine Mile, Washington. This settlement agreement would conclude the rate case and support these efforts.
This agreement has the full support of all parties involved in the rate case and is the result of these parties working together to agree on a settlement that is beneficial for our customers and our company.
What Does This Mean?
If approved, the proposed settlement agreement would increase electric and natural gas base rates as well as account for new and expiring rebates. 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.
Here is what this looks like:
Details and Results
· Increase electric by 1.4 percent or $7.0 million
· Increase natural gas by 5.6 percent or $8.5 million
· Electric customers are currently receiving benefits from two rebates that are reducing monthly energy bills by 2.8 percent during 2014.
· These rebates will expire at the end of 2014.
· Avista would provide a rebate to customers of $8.6 million over 18 months related to its sale of renewable energy credits, which would partially replace the expiring rebates and reduce customers’ monthly bills by 1.2 percent.
Energy Recovery Mechanism (ERM)
· A credit of $3.0 million from the existing ERM deferral balance would be returned to electric customers to offset the 2015 rate increase, which would reduce the overall electric billed rate increase from 1.4 percent to 0.8 percent.
· Funding available for Avista’s Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) would increase by $333,000 as a result of the settlement.
The overall change in customer billing rates from the settlement agreement, including the expiring and new rebates is 2.4 percent for electric customers and 5.5 percent for natural gas customers.
Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage
Electric – residential customer using an average 965 kilowatt hours per month
· Total billed increase of $2.10 a month or 2.6 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $82.19
· An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.00 to $8.50
Natural Gas - customer using an average of 65 therms per month
· Increase of $3.62 a month or 5.9 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $64.81
· An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.00 to $9.00
The bill increase for each customer group (e.g. residential, commercial) may differ due to adjustments to better reflect the cost to serve each customer group.
The settlement has been filed with and must be approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC or Commission).
For more details about the settlement, read the new release here.
Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.
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.
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.
Feb 12 , 2014
Inland Northwest homes and businesses typically see highest energy bills of the year in January and February. And this year isn’t any different as we have seen a long winter heating season. With sustained cold temperatures, heating systems run longer and work harder to keep the temperature at the level set on the thermostat which increases energy use.
In addition to energy use, the number of days in a billing cycle will also have an impact on energy bills. The average number of days in a billing cycle is 31, but it can range from 28 to 34 depending on the number of days in a month and any holidays. The number of days in a customer’s billing cycle is displayed on each monthly bill.
Heating and cooling a home can make up as much as half of annual energy use, so taking steps in winter to keep the warm air inside the home and the cold air outside can help manage energy use. Some easy ways to get started include:
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees and lower it to 63 at night and when leaving the house. If you have a heat pump as the main heating source, a two to three degree setback is what is recommended. Installing a programmable thermostat will let you set it and forget it.
- Seal air leaks by installing door sweeps on exterior doors or putting a towel at the bottom of the door, caulking around windows and exterior doors, and installing foam insulators behind switch plates and outlet covers on exterior walls.
- Clean or replace furnace filters regularly. And, keep vents clear of obstructions.
- Electric space heaters are more efficient when used to heat a smaller occupied space or in a common area that is generally cooler than the rest of the house.
- Limit using an open fireplace when it is extremely cold because the fireplace will draw heated air from your home and send it up the chimney.
Additional, there are low- and no-cost energy efficiency information, including rebates and incentives available for customers
. You can also access tools
that provide a month-to-month comparison of their bills with details on factors impacting each bill and other helpful information, such as a graph on two-year energy consumption.
Feb 04 , 2014
Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Avista has not filed a general rate request in Washington since April 2012. If approved, the new rates would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Here are the details about the request:
The filing includes:
· a request for a 3.8 percent increase in base revenues for capital investments
· the expiration of two rebates customers are currently receiving that are reducing monthly electric bills by 2.8 percent
· the proposal of a new rebate that would reduce customer bills by 1.1 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $15
These rebates are passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis and do not increase or decrease the company’s earnings.
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 965 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $4.89 per month or 6.1 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $84.98
The filing includes:
· a request for an increase in base revenues of 8.1 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $12
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 65 therm per months would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $5.23 per month or 8.5 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $66.42
This request will take time to be approved. In Washington, this can take up to 11 months, during which time the commission will thoroughly review Avista’s request and costs as well as relevant data and take public comments. Once reviewed, the commission will approve rates they feel are reasonable and fair.
The cost of energy and customer rates
The main driver in filing the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. We expect capital investments of $335 million in 2014, up from $280 million in 2013. These investments include upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas pipe and information technology upgrades.
Keeping rates fair and reasonable for our customers is a key part of our decision making. It’s a balance. The cost of energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.
What does this investment look like?
Below are some capital projects that are included in the rate request.
Post Falls South Channel Dam Project
Beginning spring 2014, Avista will upgrade the 106-year-old South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project includes:
· replacing the original concrete on the structure that helps control water levels of Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of the three rivers
· installing new electronic gates and hoists
· installing new electrical and controls to automate the opening and closing of the spillway gates, increasing efficiencies and reducing cost
This work will increase reliability and preserve the life of this important generation resource.
Nine Mile Powerhouse Project
We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, also 106-years-old. . The project will replace original generators, turbines and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power.
Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System
Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of Avista’s day-to-day customer operations. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, it needs to be replaced. The system touches all of our customers and supports traditional utility business functions, such as meter reading, customer billing, payment processing, credit, customer service orders and material management.
Natural Gas Pipe Replacement
Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline that was installed prior to 1987.
Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.
Aug 15 , 2013
Today, Avista filed a request with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) to increase natural gas rates by an overall 9.8 percent. The last time we requested a general rate increase in Oregon was in 2010. You can read more about the request in our news release
that was issued today.
If the request is approved and you are a residential customer using an average of 48 therms a month, you would see a $6.17 a month increase for a revised monthly bill of $64.17. The PUC has up to 10 months to review the request which seeks to recover capital investments Avista made in updating certain natural gas pipe and to update the technology that is the backbone of our customer information system. These investments will allow for the continued safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to our customers.
Assistance is Available
The economy is still challenging, so let us know if you need a helping hand. Energy assistance programs, including CARES representatives, and payment options to help qualifying customers are available. 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. Visit us at www.avistautilities.com
for more information. There you’ll also find information on energy efficiency programs, including rebates, incentives and tips that can help you manage energy use.
May 30 , 2013
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers that they want more information about how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community partnerships. Avista’s fifth annual report on our performance – our sustainability responsibility report -- is titled “Shared Value – Shared Success.”
Our purpose statement says, “To improve life’s quality with energy – safely, reliably and responsibly.” Each year, our report provides a comprehensive look at what goes into providing that energy and how often this has additional benefits to the customers and communities we serve. That’s shared value.
In this year’s report, we tell many stories of how shared value is created throughout our business. We’ve added some great graphics to help illustrate some of the information, as well as links to videos and other online resources to give readers many different ways to get the most complete story possible.
As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published only online. But 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 and shared successes.
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.
Jan 04 , 2013
Brian Sjothun and Greg McKown from the City of
Medford, accept a $14,732 incentive check from
Avista’s Steve Vincent for energy conservation work
involving R19 roof insulation at a city service center
building. The work is estimated to save 4,209 therms
of natural gas and $4,156.85 annually for the city.
Avista partners with customers in reducing natural gas use through cost effective energy conservation projects by providing cash rebates. The City of Medford continues to be a leader in the public sector in reducing operating expenses and its long term use of energy.
Avista recently presented the city with an incentive check for $14,732 for energy conservation work involving R19 roof insulation at a service center building. The work is estimated to save 4,209 therms of natural gas and $4,156.85 annually for the city.
Unfortunately it is very common for conservation projects in public buildings to not bother with utility cash rebates. However, the city is a standout exception, said Avista Regional Business Manager Steve Vincent. This demonstrates the city’s fiscal prudence with public funds.
“Partnering with Avista also helps the company achieve its own annual energy conservation requirements established by the Oregon Public Utility Commission,” Vincent said.