Oct 13 , 2011
Today, our Idaho customers will recieve an email from us, detailing why rates changed slightly on Oct. 1. Pasted below is the message from Avista Utilities President Dennis Vermillion.
Dear Avista Customer,
Electric and natural gas rates changed October 1. Here's why.
On the first of this month the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) announced changes to Avista’s electric and natural gas rates in Idaho. Your electric rates will decrease 2.1 percent, while natural gas rates will increase 0.3 percent. Avista doesn’t change rates on its own. The IPUC sets the rates you pay after Avista requests a change and provides the reasons for it.
As you might expect, a few increases and decreases combined to make up the final rate changes. Avista is continuing to invest in and maintain the electric and natural gas systems that serve you and because of that, some portions of your bill are increasing, but those are largely off-set by other rate components that have decreased. Learn more about the components.
Avista has agreed to keep base rates at this new level until at least April 1, 2013, although we may file for changes prior to that date. The IPUC has seven months to approve a general rate case. This doesn’t mean rates won’t change at all in 2012, as we will also continue to file annual requests to true-up the actual cost of natural gas and electricity.
We know how much any rate change impacts you and your monthly budget, that’s why we’re working hard to manage our costs while providing the safe, reliable service you expect from us.
President, Avista Utilities
Sep 30 , 2011
Avista and other parties in the company's electric and natural gas rate case filings have reached a settlement agreement that, if approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), is designed to provide an additional $20.0 million, or a 4.5 percent, increase in annual electric billed revenue, and $3.75 million, or a 2.6 percent increase, in annual natural gas billed revenue. Approval of the settlement agreement would conclude the general rate requests filed on May 16, 2011, with new rates becoming effective January 1, 2012.
If the settlement is approved by the UTC, a residential customer in Washington using an average of 977 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would see a $3.02, or 3.9 percent, per month increase for a revised monthly bill of $80.03. A residential customer using an average of 67 therms of natural gas a month would see a $1.76, or 2.8 percent, increase per month for a revised monthly bill of $64.09.
“We believe the settlement agreement is a fair and reasonable outcome for our customers and for our shareholders," said Dennis Vermillion, Avista Corp. senior vice president and president of Avista Utilities. "The agreement is the result of concessions and compromises on a number of issues to arrive at an outcome that is supported by the settling parties. It also represents continuing progress in our efforts to timely recover the costs of serving our customers.”
Avista's original request filed with the UTC in May 2011 included an electric rate increase of 8.7 percent, or $38.3 million, in increased annual electric revenues. The difference between the original request and the amount in the settlement agreement is due to several factors including a decrease in natural gas costs to run the company’s thermal plants, removal of the Electric Energy Efficiency Load adjustment, a reduction in certain operating expenses and adjustments for administrative and general expenses. The original request also included an increase in the common equity ratio and the return on equity. The specific capital structure ratios and the cost of capital components were not specified in the settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement includes deferred accounting treatment related to maintenance costs for Avista’s Coyote Springs 2 project and its share of the Colstrip 3 & 4 coal-fired projects that will address the year-to-year variability in these costs. Each year the difference between actual maintenance costs and the amount built into base retail rates would be deferred and amortized over the next four-year period. The amortization amounts would be recovered through future rate cases, as they occur.
Also included in the settlement agreement is a provision that Avista will not file a general rate case in Washington before April 1, 2012. The UTC has up to 11 months to review and issue a decision in a general rate case request.
Recognizing the impact of rising prices on customers, especially limited income and senior customers, funding available under this settlement agreement for Avista’s Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) would increase by $370,000. The increase in funding plus a reallocation of funds from the conservation education program would result in an additional $550,000 in direct energy bill-payment assistance for limited income and senior customers. In total, annual funding available for the LIRAP program would be approximately $3.6 million for electric customers and approximately $1.8 million for natural gas customers. The LIRAP program is funded through a separate tariff.
In addition to Avista, the parties to the settlement are the staff of the UTC, the Public Counsel Section of the Washington Office of the Attorney General, Northwest Industrial Gas Users, Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities and The Energy Project. The parties’ recommendation to approve the settlement is not binding on the commission.
The Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC), the only party to not sign the settlement agreement, has indicated that they plan to pursue approval of an electric decoupling mechanism in this case. NWEC has also indicated, however, that they do not oppose other terms of the settlement, including implementation of new retail rates effective January 1, 2012.
Avista offers a variety of energy efficiency programs for residential, limited income, commercial and industrial customers. In addition to helping customers manage their energy use, the programs also help reduce the amount of future, more costly energy resources needed to meet customer demand.
In addition to support for energy assistance programs, Avista also offers services for customers such as comfort level billing, payment arrangements and Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Services (CARES), which provide assistance to special-needs customers through referrals to area agencies and churches for help with housing, utilities, medical assistance and other needs.
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides electric service to 357,000 customers and natural gas to 317,000 customers. Our service territory covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.5 million. Avista's primary, non-regulated subsidiary is Advantage IQ. Our stock is traded under the ticker symbol "AVA." For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
Avista Corp. and the Avista Corp. logo are trademarks of Avista Corporation.
This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company's current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the news release and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company's control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010 and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2011.
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Sep 30 , 2011
Approval also received for annual pass-through filings that will off-set bill impact to customers for a net electric decrease
News Release/Post by Debbie Simock
Avista received approval today from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) on the all-party settlement agreement, concluding the company’s electric and natural gas rate request. Avista made the requests to the IPUC on July 5, 2011 followed by an all-party settlement agreement on Aug. 26, 2011. New customer rates will become effective Oct. 1, 2011.
“We are pleased the Commission recognized the need for our rates to reflect the increased costs necessary to operate and maintain our energy system. Making the effective dates for the multiple filings coincide for October 1 means our customers will actually receive a decrease in their electric rates,” said Dennis Vermillion, Avista Corp. senior vice president and president of Avista Utilities.
The new retail rates from the settlement agreement reflect an overall 1.1 percent increase in electric base rates, providing $2.8 million in additional annual electric revenue. Base natural gas rates will increase by an overall 1.6 percent with $1.1 million in additional annual natural gas revenue.
In separate actions, the IPUC also approved annual electric and natural gas rate adjustments that pass through actual changes in expenses or credits and have no impact on company earnings. The adjustments will offset all or a portion of the bill impact of the base rate increase to customers.
A residential customer using an average 956 kilowatt-hours a month will see a $1.79 per month decrease, or 2.1 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $82.02. A residential natural gas customer using an average of 62 therms would see a $0.20 per month increase, or 0.3 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $60.96. Avista serves over 122,000 electric and more than 74,000 natural gas customers in Idaho.
The approval also includes an increase in annual funding for the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho (CAPAI) from $40,000 to $50,000 for outreach and education activities for low income customers. This funding is in addition to the current $700,000 for low-income weatherization programs.
Information on energy assistance programs and energy efficiency rebates and incentives for customers is available at www.avistautilities.com.
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides electric service to 357,000 customers and natural gas to 317,000 customers. Our service territory covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.5 million. Avista’s primary, non-regulated subsidiary is Advantage IQ. Our stock is traded under the ticker symbol “AVA.” For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the news release and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010 and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2011.
Sep 15 , 2011
If approved, electric rates would go down, gas would slightly go up
Last month we shared with you about the annual tariff filings we made in Idaho
.Today we made similar filings in Washington that could decrease electric rates by 2.64 percent and increase natural gas prices by an overall 0.96 percent. If our requests are approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation (UTC), new rates would become effective Nov. 1. Read the news release to learn more.
You may wonder why we’re asking to decrease electric prices in Washington when we have a request before the utility commission to increase rates. Simply put, the requests impact your bill in different ways.
Today’s request is asking the WUTC for approval to pass through to customers $9.2 million Avista is expected to receive through a Bonneville Power Administration program. If approved, you’ll receive those benefits in the form of a monthly credit on your electric bill. This is a pass-through that has no impact on company earnings.
The request we made in May
to increase electric and natural gas rates is seeking to recover significant investments Avista has made in generating and delivering energy to our customers. It’s called a general rate case, and the WUTC has up to 11 months to review and issue a decision on the request.
Rates are complicated and can be confusing. So, post a question below and we’ll get back to you with an answer about rates or on anything else you’d like to know about.
Aug 31 , 2011
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know that we talk a lot about rates – it’s a topic we know is important to you. So we wanted to update you on a filing Avista made today for a slight decrease in natural gas rates for our Oregon customers.
This time of year Avista and other natural gas utilities in our region file what we call a PGA – Purchase Gas Cost Adjustment – with the public utility commissions. These required annual filings balance the cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista to serve customers with the amount included in rates.
Earlier this month we filed the annual PGA in Idaho
, and we’ll be filing in mid-September in Washington. The adjustment varies by state, and depending on a number of factors it could be a decrease, increase or no change at all.
Find out more in our news release
about our annual filing in Oregon today. If you have a question about rates, post a comment and we’ll be glad to get back with you.
Aug 26 , 2011
If approved, Idaho customers will see net overall energy price reductions
Post by Dan Kolbet
Over the last few months on the Avista Blog we’ve kept you updated on rates activity in Idaho. Sometimes those filings requested increases and sometimes they requested decreases. Since we’re a regulated utility, no matter what we do, we have to ask the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for the OK – then it sets our rates. Today all those recent rate filings are coming together – the big piece being our general rate case requests for electric and natural gas customers.
When combined with other proposed rate adjustments, the results of the settlement would be a net overall decrease in electric rates of 2.4 percent and a net overall decrease in natural gas rates of 0.8 percent. If approved, new rates would become effective October 1, 2011. You can see the detailed news release on the settlement here.
Any day we can tell our Idaho customers that rates (if approved) are staying flat, or even going down, is a good day in Idaho. There are several separate elements that have to combine to equal a decrease, but that’s really how your rates are comprised anyway - many different parts sum up to a total.
While a few dollars a month decrease may not seem like a lot of money in your pocket, it is significant, considering the amount of work we’re doing each year. To ensure the power you expect, we’re focusing on systematically replacing or upgrading our equipment – the poles, pipe, wires, transformers, substations, equipment and generating facilities needed to safely and reliably deliver power to you. That’s why we’re investing approximately $250 million in our utility equipment (system wide) in 2011.
Another element of the settlement that is worth noting is a “stay-out” provision. This provision is such that Avista will not propose an additional general rate increase that would be effective prior to April 1, 2013. This does not preclude the company from filing annual rate adjustments such as the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) and Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA).”
Aug 19 , 2011
Customers pay for access to many energy efficiency programs on monthly bills
Over the last few weeks thousands of lighting efficiency kits
have arrived on the doorsteps of Avista’s electric customers. The first reaction I’ve heard from co-workers, friends and folks online is, “wow, thanks for the free bulbs.”
But are they really free? Let’s take a look.
The CFLs are just one part of our energy efficiency programs. The most popular energy and cost-saving measures for residential customers include purchasing Energy Star® appliances, installing high efficiency natural gas furnaces and upgrading windows and insulation. The average residential rebate for single family homes was $131. Our energy efficiency tariff rider helps us provide these all these benefits to our customers (CFLs are just a piece of it).
There are no upfront costs for CFLs because customers have already paid for them through utility commission approved energy efficiency tariff riders. These tariffs are placed on monthly bills, for the sole purpose of promoting energy efficiency. All customers pay the tariff. Avista, along with many other utilities, use these tariffs to promote energy efficiency.
Customers want to save energy and look to us to provide energy efficiency expertise, incentives and rebates to help reduce energy use and reduce the amount of future energy generation required to meet growing energy needs. And customers are certainly using rebates and incentives. Last year Avista’s three-state service territory received over 42,000 rebates and incentives totaling almost $19 million. This is enough energy savings to power over 5,700 homes for a year.
So, if you’re an electric customer, when you get your lighting kit in the mail this year, know that by installing the bulbs, you’ll be using a tool that you’ve paid for. It’s also a tool that will start paying you back through energy savings. A Washington customer using an average of 1,000 kilowatt hours per month would save $93 over the seven-year life of the bulbs. For an Idaho customer, it’s $104 saved.
All you have to do is install the lights when the kit arrives sometime between now and November.
Aug 15 , 2011
Details: 1.63% natural gas increase; 2.11 percent electric decrease requested of Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Just three weeks ago, my co-worker Debbie Simock posted an interesting story
about filings we made in Idaho requesting changes to our rates. Well, here we go again. Today we filed two additional requests for changes to rates in Idaho – a 2.11 percent decrease in electric rates and a 1.63 percent increase in natural gas rates. These are both pass throughs and have no impact on company earnings. If the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) approves these changes, they will become effective on Oct. 1. Read the news release.
Sound familiar? There may be several changes to rates in Idaho that will become effective on Oct. 1 if the IPUC approves our requests. We’ll post the outcomes here and give you the overall change you’re likely to see on your bill.
This is just another example of what we’ve been saying for some time – Avista must file requests for any changes to our rates with the state utility commissions that regulate us. We must have their review and approval before we increase or decrease customer rates. Do you know of any other service providers who must do that? Certainly not the gas station or the supermarket. Not the airlines or the Internet carrier, either.
So, bear with us as we work through the process. We promise to keep you informed about changes to your rates as they occur. In the meantime, think about how you use energy in your home or business. Are you being as efficient as you could be? Check out the tips and rebates we have that can help at www.everylittlebit.com
Jul 28 , 2011
General Rate Case increase filed on July 5, but Power Cost Adjustment decrease filed today
I’m the first to admit that utility rates are complex and can be confusing. We may ask the utility commission for an increase in rates to recover certain costs, then ask for a decrease because other costs have declined.
View "Rates in Action" above to learn more about the
current Washington and Idaho general rate case requests,
including what's driving the cost of energy and perceptions
and facts about rates.
Confusing? In a word – yes.
But what you need to know is that your rates are made up of two components – base rates and other tariffs sometimes referred to as true-up tariffs. Base rates recover the company’s investment in generating and delivering energy to customers. True-up tariffs pass through certain costs that have no impact on the company’s earnings.
Today we asked the Idaho Public Utilities (IPUC) if we can decrease electric prices for our Idaho customers by an overall 5.99 percent because the cost of generating and purchasing power over the past 12 months was less than what is currently included in rates. It’s called a true-up of the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) rate. We asked that, if approved, the new lower rates take effect on October 1
A fair question is why didn’t we make the requests at the same time? We filed the General Rate Case increase request on July 5. The IPUC has up to seven months from that date to conduct an extensive review of the request and make a determination. The PCA true-up (filed today), which we’re required by the IPUC to file annually by August 1, is a modified process. That’s why we’ve asked that, if approved, the new lower rates take effect on October 1.
The filings are for two different components of rates and work on different schedules. It’s important to know that both filings are requests because we’re a regulated utility. The IPUC will make a thorough review of both of the requests and make their determinations. As always, we’ll keep you posted here on the Avista blog.
Jul 05 , 2011
This pole has been standing since mid-way through
the Roosevelt Administration (circa 1938). It saw a lot
of action in its day, but it's time to retire it and many
other pieces of aging infrastructure.
Reliability – it’s what you expect as a customer and it’s what we pride ourselves in delivering every day.
To ensure the power you expect, we’re focusing on systematically replacing or upgrading our equipment – the poles, pipe, wires, transformers, substations, equipment and generating facilities needed to safely and reliably deliver power to you. That’s why we’re investing approximately $250 million in our utility equipment in 2011.
The cost of upgrading equipment today is significantly more expensive than the equipment being replaced, some of which has been serving customers for 40 to 70 years. These increased costs are the major driver in the requests we filed today with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to increase electric rates by an overall 3.5 percent and overall 2.8 percent for natural gas. These are the same reasons for the requests we filed on May 16
with the Washington commission.
We’re here to answer your questions and provide information about our energy future. Take a few minutes to watch the short Take a Closer Look at How Rates are Set video
. There, you’ll also learn more about What’s Driving the Cost of Energy and the work we’re doing to ensure that you have the reliable energy you expect.