Mar 14 , 2011
Avista Receives Approval to Adjust Natural Gas Rates in Oregon
The Public Utility Commission of Oregon approves all-party settlement agreement
Avista received approval from the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) on the all-party settlement, concluding the company’s natural gas rate case in Oregon. New customer rates will be implemented in two phases: effective March 15, 2011, and June 1, 2011. Avista made the request to the PUC on Sept. 30, 2010, followed by an all-party settlement agreement on Jan. 31, 2011. The order will result in an overall increase in billed rates of 3.1 percent.
A residential customer using an average of 46 therms per month can expect to see an increase of about $1.31 per month, or 2.3 percent, for a revised monthly bill of approximately $59.45, effective March 15. Included in the rate change is an increase in the monthly basic charge from $6.50 to $7.00. On June 1, an increase of about $0.63 per month, or 1.1 percent, will become effective for a revised monthly bill of about $60.08. Overall rate increases for commercial and industrial customers vary between 0.6 percent and 3.3 percent, depending on the rate schedule.
The order sets Avista’s rate of return on rate base at 8.0 percent, with a common equity ratio of 50 percent and a 10.10 percent return on equity. Revenues are expected to increase by approximately $2.0 million effective March 15 and by approximately $1.0 million effective June 1 for an overall $2.975 million to recover expenses and capital investments made by Avista to its distribution system to ensure the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas to over 95,000 Oregon customers.
“Avista is committed to providing our customers with the safe, reliable energy they need at a fair price,” said Dennis Vermillion, president of Avista Utilities. “We are pleased the Commission recognized the need for our retail rates to reflect the increased costs necessary to operate and maintain our natural gas delivery system.”
The order also provides for deferred accounting treatment for two capital additions – the second phase of the Roseburg Reinforcement Project and the Medford Integrity Management Pipe Replacement Project - to be completed by Nov. 1, 2011, and the opportunity for a subsequent rate adjustment of approximately $0.6 million on June 1, 2012, to recover the prudently incurred costs for the two projects.
To help customers manage their energy use and costs, Avista offers a number of energy efficiency programs for residential, commercial and industrial customers. In 2010, over $950,000 in energy efficiency incentives and rebates were returned to Oregon customers.
In addition to support for energy assistance programs like Project Share, 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.
Dec 10 , 2010
Avista field employees always wear an Avista photo
identification badge and often wear Avista apparel
and drive clearly marked Avista vehicles.
‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, and we want to help make sure it stays that way for you by sharing information on Avista’s standard business practices that can keep you safe from scams and misrepresentations.
Avista does not partner with any business that goes door-to-door through neighborhoods selling attic insulation or other services, except for our Home Energy Audit
contractors in Spokane County who wear Avista identification badges. We also do not recommend any business to our customers. We do offer a number of energy efficiency rebates
and incentives, but we work directly with you, our customer, on those programs.
Our field employees always wear an Avista photo ID badge and often will be wearing Avista apparel and driving a clearly marked Avista vehicle. Employees typically do not need access to a home or business unless the customer has contacted us about a specific problem or program. Also, employees do not phone or email customers asking for confidential information.
If you are contacted by someone representing themselves as Avista, you can call us at any time at (800) 227-9187 to verify the identification of an employee and the purpose of the contact with you.
It pays to be cautious, regardless of the season.
Nov 22 , 2010
News release from Nov. 19, 2010
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves all-party settlement agreement
Avista received approval today from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) on the all-party settlement agreement, concluding the company’s electric and natural gas rate request in Washington. New customer rates will be effective Dec. 1, 2010. Avista made the requests to the WUTC on March 23, 2010 followed by an all-party settlement agreement on Aug. 25, 2010.
“Avista is committed to providing our customers with the safe, reliable energy they need at a fair price,” said Avista Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Scott L. Morris. “We are pleased the Commission recognized the need for our retail rates to reflect the increased costs necessary to operate and maintain our energy delivery system.”
The new prices reflect an overall electric increase of 7.2 percent in billed rates and a natural gas increase of 3.2 percent in billed rates. These rates are designed to increase annual electric revenues by $29.5 million and natural gas annual revenues by $4.6 million. The approved overall rate of return is 7.91 percent with a common equity ratio of 46.5 percent and a 10.2 percent return on equity.
When the new prices become effective, a residential customer will see an increase of $5.62, or 7.8 percent, for each 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity used per month. A residential natural gas customer will see an increase of $2.17, or 3.6 percent, for each 69 therms used per month. Avista serves more than 234,000 electric and nearly 147,000 natural gas customers in Washington.
Funding for Avista’s Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance Program (LIRAP), which provides energy assistance for qualifying customers, will increase by 7.4 percent or $0.71 a month for electric customers and 2.9 percent or $0.62 a month for natural gas customers. With this increase, the annual funding level for electric low-income customers will be approximately $3.3 million and approximately $1.7 million for natural gas customers.
The approval will also allow Avista to increase funding for its low-income weatherization program by $500,000 making a total of $2 million in assistance available to help qualifying customers improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Aug 06 , 2010
Cash for Appliances, plus Avista rebates helps you double-dip on savings
If your appliances look
like these, it might be
time to take advantage
of state and Avista
rebates to become
If your home is like mine, the summer chore list can get pretty long. But there was one chore on our list that I couldn’t wait to check off – buying a new dishwasher. Our new dishwasher is great - it saves a lot more energy and water than the old one, plus we don’t have to shout to talk while it’s running. We even received an Avista rebate for purchasing the new high efficiency Energy Star appliance.
The only thing that could have made it better was if we had received an additional rebate. It’s too late for us, but it isn’t too late for you.
Washington State this week announced an expansion of its Cash for Appliances rebate program. The federally-funded statewide program now provides rebates for purchasing Energy Star freezers, dishwashers, electric heat pump water heaters, gas storage and gas tankless water heaters, and ductless heat pumps. That’s in addition to the existing rebates under the program for clothes washers and refrigerators.
Naturally, you can pair the Cash for Appliances rebates with available ones offered by Avista, which range from $20 to $200, for even more cash savings. Information and forms on Avista’s rebates are at www.everylittlebit.com
. While you’re on the site, check out our Appliance Recycling Program for Washington and Idaho customers. We’ll will pick up your old refrigerator
, recycle it and pay you $30 for it – what a deal!
Idaho residents can still qualify for the Idaho Appliance Rebate Program when replacing older, working appliances with an eligible Energy Star appliance, so find out more at www.energy.idaho.gov/stimulus/appliance_rebate.htm
. Idaho customers can also take advantage of the same Avista rebates and programs as our Washington customers.
Apr 26 , 2010
I had the opportunity today to see my first in-person home energy audit on Spokane’s South Hill. I attended the official launch of Avista’s two-year Home Energy Audit pilot program. In partnership with Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County, Avista is operating an audit program that provides comprehensive home energy audits in Spokane County.
The three government partners have pledged nearly $700,000 in federal stimulus funding, which will be matched by Avista as part of its ongoing energy efficiency initiative. Together, these funds will help offset a large portion of the cost for a professional home energy audit for qualifying residents. Get all the details here.
The first thing that really struck me about the audit was how comprehensive it really was and how in just a few hours, the homeowner was armed with a wealth of actionable information on how he could most effectively make energy efficiency repairs and modifications. He’ll also get a detailed report shortly after the audit is conducted.
A blower-door test helps show where air is
leaking into a home - and where your energy
is being wasted.
The most visible demonstration from the audit was the blower door test. A massive fan is attached to the home’s front door which simulates a 20 mph wind gust hitting the outside of every wall of the home. Then you can feel (and even see, in some cases), where air is leaking into the home. During this audit, a number of unsuspecting places in the home’s basement and second story showed obvious leaks.
Crawl spaces, a pet door and pipes were key items, but to my surprise, the home’s older windows actually held up quite well. What a waste it would have been had the homeowner spent thousands of dollars on new windows, when the windows weren’t really contributing to much of the home’s energy losses.
Every home is different and everyone’s use of energy is unique to their lifestyle, which is why a detailed audit is so important when making decisions about energy efficiency. Our audit program should help get the ball rolling for many interested homeowners in Spokane County.
I also took some video of the kickoff event, and will get that posted to the blog soon.
Apr 16 , 2010
If you’re thinking about upgrading the appliances in your home, now is a perfect time to start shopping.
Washington and Idaho are offering new state-wide rebate programs for certain Energy Star appliances. You can also receive an Avista appliance rebate, which we’ve been offering for years, for qualifying Energy Star appliances. Plus if you buy an Energy Star refrigerator, we’ll pay you an additional $30 and pick up your old unit for recycling.
What’s the deal with all the rebates for appliances? It’s simple – old appliances use more electricity and water than new energy efficient models, and that can have an impact on your wallet and on the environment. Washington State expects its program will save residents about $1 million in energy costs, save 355 million gallons of water and prevent over 8,000 tons of CO2.
It may seem odd that Avista pays customers to use less energy, but it really makes sense for customers and for the company. Helping customers use less energy helps reduce the amount of new electricity we have to generate or purchase and that helps manage everyone’s costs. As we say, energy efficiency is the least-cost new resource.
Happy shopping….and saving.
Feb 15 , 2010
Kudos to our customers who in 2009 saved enough electricity to power over 6,800 Inland Northwest homes for a year and enough natural gas to serve over 3,000 homes! These savings show that every little bit we do in our homes and businesses to save energy really do add up.
What did customers do to save so much energy last year? They looked for the Energy Star ® label when buying new appliances, installed high efficiency water heaters and furnaces, and upgraded windows and insulation to help keep their homes warm in winter and cool in summer.
For their efforts, customers qualified for rebates and incentives from Avista and reduced the amount of energy used in their homes. Commercial customers also received incentives for making energy efficiency improvements which helps manage their operating costs.
In total almost 35,000 rebates and incentives totaling about $18.1 million were given to residential, commercial, industrial and limited-income customers in 2009 through energy efficiency programs. But offering energy savings programs to customers is nothing new to us – we’ve been doing for more than 30 years.
To make sure we’re able to keep up with the increasing demand from customers for the popular energy efficiency programs, we filed requests today with the utility commissions in Washington and Idaho for modest increases in the natural gas tariffs which fund these programs. If approved by the utility commissions, residential natural gas customers in Washington will see a $2.54 increase in their bill starting March 15, and Idaho residential customers will see a $1.52 monthly increase.
This leads to the question – why do we help customers use less of our product? Because generally it costs less to help customers reduce their energy use than it would cost to build new power plants or purchase additional energy to meet customer demand. Plus, using less energy is the best option for our environment.
Feb 12 , 2010
Today we launch our first-ever podcast
. I sat down with Avista’s Director of Energy Efficiency, Bruce Folsom to discuss our energy efficiency programs and the rebates and incentives that are becoming more and more popular every year.
Take a listen.
(You will be directed to a blank web page, which may take a moment to load).
Dec 23 , 2009
I’ve heard this a few times since I started talking with customers online over the past year, “I’d love to be more energy efficient, but I don’t know where to start and how to pay for it.”
I think a lot of people are in the same boat. You know your windows are drafty and that your heating unit is on its last leg or that your insulation doesn’t exist – but how does all that, coupled with your energy usage and budget, get you to be more energy efficient?
It’s complicated stuff to be sure. But, if you’re an Avista customer in Spokane County, starting in 2010, we’ve got an uncomplicated solution for you.
Just today Avista announced we received $1 million of stimulus funding from the State of Washington Department of Commerce Credit Enhancement Program to establish a low-interest revolving loan fund to help customers make recommended energy efficiency improvements to their homes and small businesses. Partnering with Avista to establish the revolving loan fund is Sustainable Local Investments Partners (SLIP), who will provide administrative services, process facilitation and outcome reporting.
This program is unlike some of the stimulus-funded programs awarded recently to Avista and other utilities across the country. When most stimulus funds are spent, they are gone for good. Not this program; it’s set up to be around a while and as customers repay loans, the money is returned, allowing for further investment by other customers.
Interested customers will start with a commercial energy audit currently offered by Avista or in a new home audit program which the company will launch early 2010. The City of Spokane, City of Spokane Valley and Spokane County are partners in the audit program. Avista is matching nearly $700,000 pledged by the governments to help offset a portion of the costs to you. The audits will provide you with an analysis of ways to make your home more energy efficient and will alert you to Avista rebates and federal energy tax credits for which you may qualify.
We’ll have more on the revolving loan and energy audit programs in early 2010 when all the details and processes are established.
Oct 20 , 2009
Any business owner knows that the cost of energy is a significant part of a monthly budget. Thankfully we just announced some new energy efficiency rebates for commercial customers that might just help trim that budget line item.
Oregon commercial customers can now receive rebates from $200 to $3,000 installing ENERGY STAR commercial kitchen equipment and dishwashers or for installing high efficiency natural gas furnaces. New incentives are also available for commercial insulation measures and refrigeration night curtains. In addition, Avista offers rebates and incentives for site-specific energy efficiency improvements made to commercial operations such as businesses, schools, and public facilities.
What’s cool about these new rebates is that Oregon customers already understand the value of energy efficiency. Just last year residential, commercial and industrial Avista customers in the state received more than 3,300 rebates and incentives totaling $850,000. Through the programs, customers reduced their energy use by over 287,000 therms of natural gas – that’s about the amount of natural gas used by almost 475 residential customers in one year. That’s good stuff.
Commercial and residential customers can find more information about energy efficiency rebates at www.everylittlebit.com