Jan 18 , 2012
H95
 
Video by Dan Kolbet
 
If you’ve traveled along Highway 95 in North Idaho by Silverwood recently, you may have seen Avista natural gas crews working alongside 6 miles of the busy highway. The Idaho Department of Transportation is reconstructing a portion of Highway 95 from approximately Chilco to Athol. 

Avista has to move its existing pipeline and is expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 3 to 6 inches. Expanded capacity helps serve existing customer needs and helps prepare infrastructure for the future. The estimated cost for this project is around $1.4 million. Part of Avista's requests for customer rate adjustments typically includes infrastructure work like this project.
 
Check out the video which was shot in early January 2012. Learn more about the project and view pictures here.

 
Published: 1/18/2012  8:19 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 06 , 2012
Natural gas slideshow

Crews brave the cold to bring reliable service to you in $1.4 million project

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
If you’ve traveled along Highway 95 in North Idaho by Silverwood recently, you may have seen Avista natural gas crews working alongside the busy highway. We wanted to let you know what they are up to. Our crews are relocating and increasing capacity for six miles of natural gas pipeline to accommodate a newly constructed highway.

The Idaho Department of Transportation is reconstructing a portion of Highway 95 from approximately Chilco to Athol.  The highway will expand from two to four lanes, which is great for safety and traffic, but means Avista’s existing 3-inch natural gas pipeline needs to move to a new right-of-way on the east side of the road.

Avista is expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 3 to 6 inches too. Expanded capacity helps serve existing customer needs and helps prepare our infrastructure for the future. The estimated cost for this project is around $1.4 million. Part of our requests for customer rate adjustments typically includes infrastructure work like this project.

You can see from the slideshow of pictures that the crews are clearing a pathway, laying down 40-foot lengths of yellow plastic pipe, fusing them together and then burying the pipeline with sandy soil. The sandy soil protects the pipeline from being touched rocks or hard objects that could put pressure on the new pipeline. After the line is in place it will be pressure tested before being brought into service.

The project started in mid-December and should be completed by mid-March. One of the biggest hurdles the crews had to overcome recently was frost. At times crews had to dig through 12 to 24 inches of frozen ground to make a trench that goes much deeper. Typically large projects like this aren’t completed during winter months, but Avista and other utilities agreed to do the work now to accommodate the Idaho Department of Transportation’s aggressive schedule. Luckily snow hasn’t been an issue yet, but if it does, our crews will work through that too.

Checkout other Avista Blog post about Natural Gas.
Published: 1/6/2012  11:31 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 16 , 2011
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves multi-party settlement agreement, including increase in energy assistance funding for customers
 
News Release by Debbie Simock
 
Avista received approval today from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on the multi-party settlement agreement, concluding the company’s electric and natural gas rate requests in Washington. New customer rates will be effective Jan. 1, 2012. Avista made the requests to the UTC on May 16, 2011, followed by a multi--party settlement agreement on Sept. 30, 2011.

“Energy impacts every aspect of our lives. It’s our job to make sure customers can depend on having energy when they need it and that requires a reliable energy delivery system,” said Dennis Vermillion, Avista Corp. senior vice president and president of Avista Utilities. “We are pleased the Commission recognized the need for retail rates to reflect the increased costs necessary to operate our system.”

The approved rates are designed to provide an additional $20.0 million in annual electric revenue and $3.75 million in natural gas annual revenues to recover, among other things, increased investment in Avista’s energy system. The new prices reflect an overall electric increase of 4.5 percent in billed rates and a natural gas increase of 2.5 percent in billed rates.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, a residential customer using an average of 977 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would see an increase of $3.02, or 4.0 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $78.00. A residential natural gas customer using an average of 67 therms a month would see a $1.76, or 2.8 percent, increase a month for a revised monthly bill of $64.63. Avista serves more than 234,000 electric and nearly 147,000 natural gas customers in Washington.

Additional annual funding of $550,000 in direct energy bill payment assistance for limited income and senior customers will be available as a result of the UTC approval. The increase includes $370,000 in new funding for Avista’s Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP), plus $180,000 in reallocated funds from the utility’s conservation education program. In total, annual funding available for the LIRAP program to assist qualifying customers 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.

Information on energy assistance programs and energy efficiency rebates and incentives for customers is available at www.avistautilities.com.

The UTC has requested a more detailed breakdown of executive compensation for informational purposes. Avista will provide the requested information by the February 29, 2012, deadline.

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 Ecova, an energy and sustainability management company with more than 500 multi-site commercial and utility customers, representing more than 450,000 sites.  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 Sept. 30, 2011.
Published: 12/16/2011  6:51 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 29 , 2011
Powering Our Future Video
 
Post by Brandi Smith, Video by Dan Kolbet

 
Powering Our Future
The Powering Our Future event featured an interactive
game in resource planning. Participants worked in
small groups to build upon an existing resource mix
portfolio in order to meet the energy needs of their
customers over the next 20 years.
Powering Our Future
The purpose of the game was to educate our
customers about the complexities of the power
planning process and to help them understand how
Avista plans for our energy future while meeting
renewable portfolio standards in a cost-effective
way.
Avista hosted another successful Powering Our Future event, the third in a series, on Thursday, Nov. 17 at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley. The evening was filled with thoughtful insight, conversation and even a game that put guests in the shoes of a power supply planner for a northwest utility company.  The event required reservations, but was open to the public and free to attend.

Dick Storro, Avista’s Vice-President of energy resources, kicked off the event before keynote speaker, Jim Yost, from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council spoke about the importance of balancing the environmental and energy needs of the Northwest. Bob Lafferty, Avista’s Director of Power Supply, teed up the rest of the evening with an engaging discussion about how Avista plans to meet customers’ needs reliably and responsibly while integrating renewable resources.

The evening then shifted gears with an interactive game in power planning. Participants worked in small groups to build upon an existing portfolio of resources in order to meet energy needs of customers over the next 20 years. They were able to choose from a mix of resources such as solar, wind, coal, nuclear power, natural gas, conservation, biomass and hydroelectric power.

Once the groups decided on their preferred resource strategy, they were able to see the impact of their decisions on a computer module. The module displayed how their choices impacted carbon emissions, energy costs, the ability to meet peak demand and whether or not their preferred mix satisfied Washington State renewable energy credits.

“The interactive element of the program helped our guests understand the complexities of the power planning process,” Lafferty said. “By giving them a game to play, they were able to see the cost and environmental tradeoffs of their decisions as well as whether their choices met peak demand.”

The event was capped off with a lively question and answer session followed by a social hour where attendees were given the opportunity to mingle with speakers and Avista employees. The purpose of the event was to educate customers about how Avista plans for the future of energy while also meeting renewable portfolio standards in a cost-effective way. 
Published: 11/29/2011  12:22 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 13 , 2011
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
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.
 
If you have any questions about this email, or anything really, contact me at conversation@avistautilities.com
 
 
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.
 
The winter heating season is almost here, so if you’d like to learn more about managing your monthly bill, visit us here. It’s also not too late to prepare your home to save energy, view low cost or no cost tips here.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dennis Vermillion
President, Avista Utilities
Published: 10/13/2011  9:45 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 30 , 2011
News Release/Post by Debbie Simock
 
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.

For more information about the rate process, visit www.avistautilities.com.
 

About Avista
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.

To unsubscribe from Avista's news release distribution, send a reply message to shirley.wolf@avistacorp.com.

Published: 9/30/2011  4:09 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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.

Published: 9/30/2011  2:13 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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 and Oregon.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.
Published: 9/15/2011  1:24 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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.
 
 
Published: 8/31/2011  3:05 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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).”  
 
If you’d like to learn more about this settlement and what pieces came together in the end, check out our news release here: http://avistacorp.mwnewsroom.com/press-releases/avista-reaches-settlement-in-idaho-electric-and-na-nyse-ava-0792455 
Published: 8/26/2011  3:43 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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