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Perceptions and Facts

Energy pricing is complex and can be confusing. That’s why we want to make sure you have the facts you need. Let us know if you have a question about energy pricing.

Perception: Energy prices for Avista customers are above the national average.

Fact: Your residential electric rates are among the lowest in the nation for investor-owned utilities. In July 2012, the national average for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month was $128.29 or about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Currently, the average bill for a residential customer in Washington is $79.58 a month or 8.0 cents a kilowatt-hour and $84.63 for an Idaho customer or 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour. We work hard to manage our costs to help keep your costs as reasonable as possible. Click here for more information on rates.

Perception: Avista can change its energy prices any time it wants.

Fact: Avista is a regulated utility which means any change in customer prices – increase or decrease - must be reviewed and approved by the state utility commission before the change can be made. Changing customer rates involves an extensive process that includes many people, thousands of pages of information and can take from 7 to 11 months, depending on the state.

Perception: Avista wants customers to use more energy because it benefits the company.

Fact: For decades, Avista has partnered with our customers to help them use less energy. You probably wonder why we would help customers use less of our product. Simply put, it costs less to help customers reduce their energy use than it costs to build new generating plants or purchase additional energy on the wholesale market. 

In 2011, more than 30,000 rebates totaling over $15.1 million for our rebate programs were paid to residential, low income and non-residential customers in Washington and Idaho. An additional 297,000 customers received a lighting efficiency kit consisting of eight compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) with a total value of $4 million. The funding for the program comes from a small charge on customer bills. For a Washington customer using an average of 989 kilowatt-hours a month, it amounts to $3.14 a month and $2.36 for a natural gas customer using an average of 68 therms a month. In Idaho, it amounts to $2.42 for a customer using 939 kilowatt-hours a month and $1.62 for a customer using 60 therms a month.

Perception: A large portion of my energy bill goes to pay for executive salaries and incentives.

Fact: Out of every dollar you pay on your energy bill, less than 1/2 of one penny goes to pay salary and incentives for all Avista officers. What’s really driving prices is the cost of generating and purchasing power to serve customers, investments we’ve made in our complex system of pipes, poles, wires, generating facilities and substations, and an increasing number of compliance mandates. Click here for more information on executive compensation.

Perception: Avista is a monopoly, so it can do anything it wants.

Fact: Avista is a regulated monopoly. That means the public utility commissions in the states in which we operate – Washington, Idaho and Oregon – oversee all aspects of our operations. This includes the reliability of our service, the level of costs and investments made in our system. The utility commissions also set the authorized rates of return we have the opportunity to earn for shareholders who invest in our company. We cannot adjust our prices or earnings without the state regulatory commissions first reviewing and approving the changes, ensuring that they are fair and reasonable. Click here for information on profits and shareholders.

Most utilities in the U.S., whether an investor-owned utility like Avista, or a public utility, are a monopoly. It would be very expensive to duplicate facilities to serve geographic areas with more than one electric system.

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