Feb 09 , 2015
 

Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Here are the details about the request:

 

Electric

The filing includes:

·         a request for a 6.7 percent increase in revenues, primarily for capital investments

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8.50  to $14.00

 

 

Bill impact:

The bill impact for a customer using an average of 966 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $6.45 per month or 7.9 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $87.67

 

 

Natural Gas

The filing includes:

·         a request for an increase in revenues of 6.9 percent

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $9.00 to $12.00

 

 

Bill impact:

 The bill impact for a customer using an average of 68 therms per month would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $5.41 per month or 7.9  percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $73.57

 

Timing

 

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. You may hear updates in the process in the coming months.

 

The cost of energy and customer rates

 

The main driver in the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. 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 to produce energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.

 

What does this investment look like?

 

Below are some of the capital projects and investments that are included in the rate request.

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 107-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable power.  In 2013, the last two (of four) original turbine-generating units were removed to make way for the new, more efficient units. Work in the powerhouse to install the new units began in 2014 along with a new warehouse, barge dock and crane pad.

 

Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System

Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of our day-to-day customer operations. 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. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, over time it needed to be replaced. Years of work and investment in technology led to the launch of the new system in early February 2015.

 

Natural Gas Pipe Replacement

Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of older natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline to support a continuation of reliable service for our customers. In 2015, work will take place across all three states we serve, including Spokane, WA, Post Falls, ID, Lewiston, ID, Medford, OR and more. Learn more about this work and view all locations scheduled for 2015 here.

 

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Avista continues to invest in modernizing our grid to meet current and future energy needs. In 2015, Avista is planning for the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in Washington. This multi-year AMI project includes installing advanced meters, beginning in 2016.

 

Advanced meters allow for two-way communication between Avista and customers. The technology creates the foundation for future customer benefits, including faster outage detection and restoration of service, plus near real-time energy use information and energy usage alerts. These capabilities will allow customers to better understand and manage their energy use.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process. Watch this video. Read this one-sheet.

Published: 2/9/2015  1:09 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 21 , 2015
 

Today, Avista announced that a full settlement agreement has been reached in Oregon in our general rate case.

 

You may recall we filed a general rate request in Oregon on Sept. 2, 2014 to increase natural gas base rates in Oregon to recover costs related to replacing certain natural gas service pipe and updated technology that is the backbone of Avista’s customer information system. This settlement agreement would conclude the rate case if approved by the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC).

 

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 natural gas rates.

Below is a summary of the terms of the agreement:

Item(s)

Details and Results

Base revenues

·       Increase natural gas by 6.1 percent or $6.1 million.

Offsets

·       Offset by $0.262 million that the company is already receiving from customers through a separate rate adjustment.

·       Offset by a $0.85 million credit to customers related to having an early implementation date for the revenue increase (prior to the full 10 months allowed in Oregon for the PUC to make a decision on the case and new rates to take effect).

Overall change

·       The overall change in natural gas customer billing rates from the settlement agreement is 4.9 percent. This is an increase of $5 million in billed revenues for Avista.

 

The actual percentage increase will vary by customer class and will depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage

Natural Gas - customer using an average of 47 therms per month

·         Increase of $3.23 or 5.3 percent

·         A revised monthly bill from $60.50 to $63.73

·         No increase in the basic monthly charge (remains at $8 per month)

 

 

For more details about the settlement, read the new release here. You can also read more about the initial request here.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.

Published: 1/21/2015  2:24 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 25 , 2014

On Nov. 25, 2014, Avista received approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission or UTC) on the all-party settlement in our electric and natural gas general rate case. New rates will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

 

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. This approval from the Commission concludes the rate case and supports these efforts.

 

What Does This Mean?

The Commission’s approval will 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.

 

The overall change in customer billing rates, including the expiring and new rebates, is 2.5 percent for electric customers and 5.6 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 2.7 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $81.13

·         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 $3.70 or 6.0 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $64.89

·         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.

 

For more details, read the new release here and the blog regarding the settlement here.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.

 
Published: 11/25/2014  5:11 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 03 , 2014
 

Over the last couple of months, we’ve told you about annual rate adjustments that we have filed with our utility commissions in each of the states we serve. These included annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustments (PGA) filed in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, the Idaho Power Cost Adjustment (PCA), and rate adjustments in the Washington and Idaho Residential Exchange Programs.

 

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)

Residential Exchange Program

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 are required to file the PGA each year, and costs can go up or down, based on the cost of wholesale natural gas.

The PCA is an annual rate adjustment in Idaho 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.

 

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.

 

 

These rate adjustments, filed between July 30, 2014 and Sept. 15, 2014, have been approved by the various utility commissions, and customers will begin seeing these in reflected in their monthly utility bills, as of Oct. 1 (Idaho PCA and Idaho Residential Exchange Program) and Nov. 1 (all other filings). Below are the details of each of these adjustments in each state.

 

Idaho

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 60 therms per month:

·        Decrease of $1.16 or 2 percent

·        Revised monthly bill of $58.32

Power Cost Adjustment and Residential Exchange Program

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 930 kilowatt hours per month:

·        Increase of $3.45 or 4.2 percent per month

·        Revised monthly bill from $81.88 to $85.33

 

 

Read more about these filings here and here.

 

Oregon

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 47 therms per month:

·        Increase of $4.36 or 7.8 percent

General rate change from 2013 general rate case

This increase is to recover capital costs related to natural gas pipe replacement:

·        Increase of $0.17 or 0.3 percent

Overall

Residential increase of 8.1 percent with a revised monthly bill from $55.97 to 60.50

Read more about these filings here and here.

 

Washington

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 65 therms per month:

·        Increase of $0.65 or 1.1 percent

·        Revised monthly bill of $61.84

Residential Exchange Program

Residential customer bills based on average usage 965 kilowatt hours per month:

·        Decrease of $1.06 per month or 1.3 percent

·        Revised monthly bill from $80.09 to $79.03

Read more about these filings here.

 

 

Published: 11/3/2014  10:32 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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.

 

Published: 9/15/2014  1:11 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 02 , 2014

Today, Avista filed a general rate request with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) to increase natural gas base rates in Oregon.

 

Base rates are those that cover the total cost of providing natural gas service to customers.

 

This request is driven by the continued investment in the systems and technology we use every day to serve customers.

 

You may recall that we filed a purchased gas cost adjustment (PGA) in Oregon in July 2014. 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. Costs can go up or down, based on the cost of wholesale natural gas.

 

The PGA is filed each year and is required by the PUC. It is separate from a general rate case.

 

Details and Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage

Base Rates

·         Overall increase of  9.3 percent

Natural Gas - customer using an average of 47 therms per month

·         Increase of $5.78 per month or 10.3 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $61.75

·         An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.00 to $10.00

 

 

Timeline

In Oregon, the PUC has up to 10 months to review and make a decision. During this time, the PUC will review our costs, review relevant data and listen to public testimony. With this information, they will approve rates they feel are reasonable and fair. If approved, new rates would take effect no later than July 2015.

 

What does this look like?

The main drivers of this request include the continued capital investments in natural gas infrastructure and technology. Capital projects that are included in this rate request are described below.

 

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 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 about the rate-making process here. Read the news release about this request here.

 

Published: 9/2/2014  12:59 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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:

 

Item(s)

Details and Results

Base revenues

·         Increase electric by 1.4 percent or $7.0 million

·         Increase natural gas by 5.6 percent or $8.5 million

Expiring rebates

·         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.

New rebates

·         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.

LIRAP

·         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.

Published: 8/18/2014  1:07 PM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

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 | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

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