Feb 12 , 2014
 
Posted by Debbie Simock
 
Inland Northwest homes and businesses typically see highest energy bills of the year in January and February. And this year isn’t any different as we have seen a long winter heating season. With sustained cold temperatures, heating systems run longer and work harder to keep the temperature at the level set on the thermostat which increases energy use.
 
In addition to energy use, the number of days in a billing cycle will also have an impact on energy bills. The average number of days in a billing cycle is 31, but it can range from 28 to 34 depending on the number of days in a month and any holidays. The number of days in a customer’s billing cycle is displayed on each monthly bill.
 
Heating and cooling a home can make up as much as half of annual energy use, so taking steps in winter to keep the warm air inside the home and the cold air outside can help manage energy use. Some easy ways to get started include:
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees and lower it to 63 at night and when leaving the house. If you have a heat pump as the main heating source, a two to three degree setback is what is recommended. Installing a programmable thermostat will let you set it and forget it.
 
- Seal air leaks by installing door sweeps on exterior doors or putting a towel at the bottom of the door, caulking around windows and exterior doors, and installing foam insulators behind switch plates and outlet covers on exterior walls.
 
- Clean or replace furnace filters regularly. And, keep vents clear of obstructions.
 
- Electric space heaters are more efficient when used to heat a smaller occupied space or in a common area that is generally cooler than the rest of the house. 
 
- Limit using an open fireplace when it is extremely cold because the fireplace will draw heated air from your home and send it up the chimney.
 
Additional, there are low- and no-cost energy efficiency information, including rebates and incentives available for customers. You can also access tools that provide a month-to-month comparison of their bills with details on factors impacting each bill and other helpful information, such as a graph on two-year energy consumption.
 
Published: 2/12/2014  10:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 04 , 2014

Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Avista has not filed a general rate request in Washington since April 2012. If approved, the new rates would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Here are the details about the request:

 

Electric

The filing includes:

·         a request for a 3.8 percent increase in base revenues for capital investments

·         the expiration of two rebates customers are currently receiving that are reducing monthly electric bills by 2.8 percent

·         the proposal of a new rebate that would reduce customer bills by 1.1 percent

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $15

 

These rebates are passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis and do not increase or decrease the company’s earnings.

Bill impact:

The bill impact for a customer using an average of 965 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $4.89 per month or 6.1 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $84.98

 

Natural Gas

The filing includes:

·         a request for an increase in base revenues of 8.1 percent

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $12

 

 

Bill impact:

 The bill impact for a customer using an average of 65 therm per months would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $5.23 per month or 8.5 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $66.42

 

Timing

This request will take time to be approved. In Washington, this can take up to 11 months, during which time the commission will thoroughly review Avista’s request and costs as well as relevant data and take public comments. Once reviewed, the commission will approve rates they feel are reasonable and fair.

 

The cost of energy and customer rates

 

The main driver in filing the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. We expect capital investments of $335 million in 2014, up from $280 million in 2013. These investments include upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas pipe and information technology upgrades.

 

Keeping rates fair and reasonable for our customers is a key part of our decision making. It’s a balance. The cost of energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.

 

What does this investment look like?

 

Below are some capital projects that are included in the rate request.

 

Post Falls South Channel Dam Project

Beginning spring 2014, Avista will upgrade the 106-year-old South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project includes:

·         replacing the original concrete on the structure that helps control water levels of  Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of the three rivers

·         installing new electronic gates and hoists

·         installing new electrical and controls to automate the opening and closing of the spillway gates, increasing efficiencies and reducing cost

 

This work will increase reliability and preserve the life of this important generation resource.

 

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, also 106-years-old. . The project will replace original generators, turbines and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power. 

 

 

Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System

Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of Avista’s day-to-day customer operations. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, it needs to be replaced. The system touches all of our customers and supports traditional utility business functions, such as meter reading, customer billing, payment processing, credit, customer service orders and material management.

 

Natural Gas Pipe Replacement

Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline that was installed prior to 1987.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.

Published: 2/4/2014  12:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post