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.
Jun 30 , 2011
Post by Debbie Simock
Starting tomorrow, natural gas rates for our Washington customers will decrease by two percent, or $1.66 a month, as part of the annual true-up of our energy efficiency rebate and incentive programs. You can read more about the decrease in the news release issued today by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on their approval of our request.
As part of our energy efficiency program true-up in Idaho, natural gas and electric customers could also see a decrease in their rates effective August 1, if the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approves our request.
So, why do we provide rebates to help customers use less of our product? Making efficiency improvements is a smart choice that helps customers reduce their energy use and reduce the amount of future energy generation required to meet growing energy needs.
If you want to find out if any of the energy efficiency improvements you’re planning will qualify for an Avista rebate, visit us at www.everylittlebit.com.
Jun 22 , 2011
This morning I stopped by an Avista job site just east of Division in downtown Spokane. Our crews were replacing a section of power line between First and Second avenues at Cowley Street. In order to keep the neighboring homes and businesses with power while the replacement project occurred, they were safely working around live (or hot) power lines.
Our crews attached extenders on the top of the utility poles and moved the live/hot lines to the outer edges. Then they use rope to pull new, higher gauge power lines where the old lines used to sit. At either end of the work are massive spools that release the new wire or collect the rope. They will repeat this process until the entire length of the power line, usually many miles, is replaced.
We often use the term “upgrades,” when we talk about this type of project. Since we’re replacing an old line with a new one, a simple replacement really is an “upgrade” too. If you’re going to replace something, you might as well plan for future needs so you don’t have to come back and upgrade the line again in just a few years.
This small example shows how Avista is ensuring our electric grid has the capacity to meet your needs, when you need it. This is your rate dollars at work.
Check out the slideshow above for more 14 images of Avista crews working for you.
May 19 , 2011
We created the above videos to help showcase some of the projects and pieces of infrastructure that are included in our recent rate filing in Washington. These filings can be complicated and I personally like seeing the visuals.
The first video, called Reliability and the Cost of Your Energy, focuses on infrastructure, which means ensuring you have reliable power. There are also videos that feature renewable hydropower projects at Nine Mile Falls and Noxon Rapids dams.
I also included a video I shot last year near Potlatch, Idaho. It isn’t directly tied to the Washington rate case, but it shows the extent a wind event can have on Avista’s infrastructure. The audio quality is pretty terrible thanks to the wind, so hang in there when you watch it.
Also in there is a video that explains how general rate cases work. And a safety video about how we work with first responders and natural gas.
The graphic to the right shows how the proposed Washington electric increase breaks down. We don’t have a graphic for the natural gas portion of the case, but a good deal of it is to recover the cost of a portion of the gas stored in the Jackson Prairie Storage facility.