Aug 18 , 2014
Today, Avista announced that a full settlement agreement has been reached in Washington.
You may recall we filed a general rate request on Feb. 4, 2014 to increase electric and natural gas base rates in Washington that would support the ongoing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve our customers. Facilities like our 106-year-old South Channel Dam in Post Falls, Idaho and 106-year-old Powerhouse in Nine Mile, Washington. This settlement agreement would conclude the rate case and support these efforts.
This agreement has the full support of all parties involved in the rate case and is the result of these parties working together to agree on a settlement that is beneficial for our customers and our company.
What Does This Mean?
If approved, the proposed settlement agreement would increase electric and natural gas base rates as well as account for new and expiring rebates. Base rates are those that cover the total cost of providing electricity and natural gas service to customers. This includes generating and purchasing energy as well as the delivery of that energy to customers.
Here is what this looks like:
Details and Results
· Increase electric by 1.4 percent or $7.0 million
· Increase natural gas by 5.6 percent or $8.5 million
· Electric customers are currently receiving benefits from two rebates that are reducing monthly energy bills by 2.8 percent during 2014.
· These rebates will expire at the end of 2014.
· Avista would provide a rebate to customers of $8.6 million over 18 months related to its sale of renewable energy credits, which would partially replace the expiring rebates and reduce customers’ monthly bills by 1.2 percent.
Energy Recovery Mechanism (ERM)
· A credit of $3.0 million from the existing ERM deferral balance would be returned to electric customers to offset the 2015 rate increase, which would reduce the overall electric billed rate increase from 1.4 percent to 0.8 percent.
· Funding available for Avista’s Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) would increase by $333,000 as a result of the settlement.
The overall change in customer billing rates from the settlement agreement, including the expiring and new rebates is 2.4 percent for electric customers and 5.5 percent for natural gas customers.
Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage
Electric – residential customer using an average 965 kilowatt hours per month
· Total billed increase of $2.10 a month or 2.6 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $82.19
· An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.00 to $8.50
Natural Gas - customer using an average of 65 therms per month
· Increase of $3.62 a month or 5.9 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $64.81
· An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.00 to $9.00
The bill increase for each customer group (e.g. residential, commercial) may differ due to adjustments to better reflect the cost to serve each customer group.
The settlement has been filed with and must be approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC or Commission).
For more details about the settlement, read the new release here.
Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.
Jul 14 , 2014
Today, Avista announced that a settlement has been reached to extend the current rate plan in Idaho. The settlement proposes that there would be no increase in base retail rates for customers prior to 2016.
What Does This Mean?
The extension of the current rate plan provides rate stability for customers and is the result of a collaborative process. It is an outcome that is beneficial for our customers and the company.
· Unchanged base retail rates
· Maintained level of rebates that customers currently receive
· The opportunity to balance the recovery of costs of providing safe and reliable energy and the company’s opportunity to earn a fair return
Details of the Proposed Settlement
The details of the proposed settlement demonstrate what can be a complex process and topic.
· Replacement of two rebates that are set to expire on Jan. 1, 2015 that are currently reducing customers’ monthly energy bills by 1.3 percent on the electric side and 1.7 percent on the natural gas side.
· An estimated $3.7 million increase in pre-tax margin in 2015 for Idaho operations.
· Deferral of the majority of costs related to completion of Avista’s customer information system upgrades in 2015, as well as a change in the timing of expenses related to operations and maintenance (O&M) costs pertaining to its Colstrip and Coyote Springs 2 thermal generating facilities.
· Use of any deferral balance resulting from the 2014 Idaho earnings test to support up to a 9.5 percent return on equity (ROE) in 2015.
· If the company earns more than its currently authorized 9.8 percent ROE in 2015, 50 percent of the earnings above 9.8 percent would be deferred for future ratemaking.
PGA and PCA Adjustments
The proposed settlement applies to base rates. Avista will file annual rate adjustments including the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) and Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA). These adjustments balance the actual costs of purchasing or generating energy and natural gas to serve customers and the amounts currently covered in rates, and are typically filed in the third quarter every year.
The settlement has been filed with and must be approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Commission).
Read the announcement news release.
Mar 18 , 2014
We are proud to be a part of powering your future.
On March 13, 1889, Avista, formerly known as Washington Water Power, was incorporated eight months before the Washington Territory became a state. Today, the company is one of only three companies remaining in the state that are classified as Territorial Corporations – incorporated before Washington’s statehood. (See a Video of the presentation.)
The company began on the banks of the Spokane River with the Monroe Street plant, using hydropower to generate electricity for the growing city of Spokane Falls. Today, clean, renewable resources remain a significant part of the company’s diversified mix for energy generation.
Over the generations of providing energy services, one thing has remained constant for our company: We are honored to provide the energy and resources that have helped families and commerce be successful, whether it is in the home, enjoying the outdoors or building successful businesses. We’re proud to call each community we serve “home,” and we’re proud to be your partner in bringing energy for life.
History by Region
Our service territory spans more than 30,000 miles throughout Washington, Northern Idaho, and Oregon. The communities we serve have a rich history that we’re proud to be part of. We’ve captured some of these highlights in our 125th Anniversary Tabloid. You can view it online or download and print. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane by region.
Huntington Park in Downtown Spokane to open in May
On May 2, 2014, Avista will celebrate the renovation of Huntington Park, property the company owns along the banks of the Spokane River, just west of Spokane’s City Hall. The renovation and enhancements include work on the walkways, grassy areas and structures to provide residents and visitors greater access to the river and views of the falls.
A new plaza at City Hall will be dedicated that day as a gift to Spokane in celebration of the company’s 125 anniversary. The new plaza will create open-air space for gatherings and river viewing, and includes two water features and a fire feature.
For the first time in more than 100 years, the view of the spectacular lower falls of the Spokane River will be opened up for easy viewing from the park, the plaza or the streets of Spokane.
Learn more about Huntington Park.
Salmon Chief to oversee Huntington Park
Artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand created an inspirational Native American sculpture – Salmon Chief - to oversee Huntington Park, which will be dedicated in May.
Marchand says the sculpture represents a Native American tradition of a man who was appointed to ensure all area tribes received enough Salmon to make it through the winter.
The Native American sitting atop his horse is raising the salmon like a blessing to the river. The horse and man statute is over 12-feet tall and took more than three weeks to make. Several other pieces will be added to the display in the spring.
Mar 12 , 2014
Why would engineers from Bangladesh come all the way to Spokane? To see Avista’s smart grid upgrades up close and personal, of course.
Members of Bangladesh’s Rural Electrification Board are spending several weeks in Pullman learning about power engineering from Washington State University faculty. Their curriculum includes a field trip to Avista.
They learned about the investments Avista’s made to transform Pullman, Wash into the region’s first “smart city,” toured one of our state-of-the art substations and traveled to Spokane to meet with 3 Avista engineers who are leading our grid modernization projects. They saw first-hand how the switches, sensors and software we’ve installed are improving reliability for customers and enhancing the energy efficiency of our distribution system.
“We are working for the villagers,” said Abdul Aziz, an executive engineer with the Rural Electrification Board. “We are learning methods at WSU that will help us bring the villagers better service and an improved distribution system.”
Our friends from Bangladesh learned a lot from our engineers -- and they’ll bring those lessons home.
We can’t wait to share our knowledge with another group of Bangladesh visitors later this month.
Mar 11 , 2014
On Thursday, March 13th Avista Utilities is hosting a public information meeting to update the community on details for the restoration and upgrade of the over 100-year-old South Channel Dam at the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development (HED). The meeting will take place from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at the Post Falls City Administration Building, 408 N. Spokane Street.
The public is invited to attend the event, which will outline the project details and construction plans. The presentation will be followed by an open Q&A session where you can talk with project experts. Q’emiln Park, including the boat launch, swim area, trailhead and pavilion, and the Spokane River between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boaters safety cables are expected to be open as normal this summer with limited exceptions.
The construction methods that will be used in the project were chosen to minimize disruption in the area, while protecting the safety of the public, environment and wildlife. The project, designed to restore the dam located on the south channel of the Spokane River near Q’emiln Park, is expected to begin this spring with construction completed by December 2014 and final road work and landscaping to be completed in spring 2015.
It’s easy to stay up-to-date on project information and impacts. Just send us an email at SpokaneRiverNews@avistacorp.com
and you will be added to the distribution list for our email alerts. Be sure to type "Post Falls Updates" in the subject line and include your name and email address in the body text. You can also get timely project information, including the project fact sheet on our website. Just type “Post Falls Dam” in the Ask a Question field.
Feb 12 , 2014
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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
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.
Nov 08 , 2013
Avista recently announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Alaska Energy and Resources Company (AERC), which includes its primary subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company (AEL&P), which is the sole electric services provider for Juneau, the state capital of Alaska.
When the transaction is complete AERC will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avista Corp. The transaction, pending regulatory approvals is not expected to be completed until mid-year 2014. The $170 million purchase price will be funded through the issuance of Avista common stock to the shareholders of AERC. Read the news release.
“AEL&P’s 120-year culture of service and community partnership is a great long-term fit with Avista Corp. We have found AEL&P to have similar cultural values and focus on providing safe, reliable service from clean, renewable energy sources that Avista has held dear for nearly 125 years. We look forward to working with their highly skilled and dedicated management and employees, and to being part of the Juneau community,” said Avista Corp. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Morris. “This agreement reflects Avista’s strategy to expand and diversify energy assets and deliver long-term value to the customers, communities and investors we serve.”
Since there is no plan to merge Avista Utilities and AEL&P’s utility operations, customers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho won’t see any big changes.
This isn’t the first time Avista has acquired a utility or utility properties. In the early ‘90s Avista (WWP) acquired CP National’s Oregon and California properties. This provided the basis for our Oregon operations today. And in 1994, Avista acquired PacifiCorp’s Northern Idaho electric properties, which included Sandpoint, Idaho.
Oct 02 , 2013
We want customers to be aware of a telephone scam making its way across the country.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today warned utility consumers of a growing telephone scam.
The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers.
Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
If you receive a call like this, please hang up immediately and call us at 1-800-227-9187 to let us know. You are also advised to call your local law enforcement agency to report it.
Consumers are also urged to report suspicious calls to both the UTC at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).
Aug 05 , 2013
Avista is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Kettle Falls Generating Station this month with an open house. To celebrate, the public is invited to an open house on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 9:00am - 11:00am at the Kettle Falls Generating Station 1151 U.S. Hwy 395 North, Kettle Falls, Wash.
Built in 1983, the Kettle Falls plant was the first utility-owned electric generating station of its kind in the U.S. constructed for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste, or biomass. The award-winning plant, combined with Avista’s legacy hydroelectric power projects, has contributed to Avista being listed among the greenest utilities in the country. The facility produces up to 61 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 46,000 homes.
While wood waste is just one of many resources that Avista employs throughout their system, the Kettle Falls facility is special. It is a model of efficiency and innovation, and Avista’s secret is out.
The Association of Washington Business, Power Magazine, the U.S. Forest Service, and the state of Washington are among the many institutions that have recognized Kettle Falls for its contributions to industry and the environment. With the dedication to environmental stewardship demonstrated by partnerships in the timber industry, Avista produces energy with a resource that is clean and abundant – renewable in the best sense of the word.
With the support of legislators, the community and Avista employees, the Kettle Falls Generating Station is well-positioned to be a part of the region’s clean energy future.
Avista is pleased to be celebrating 30 years of the Kettle Falls Generating Station, which supports over 100 jobs, a strong tax base, a healthy economy, and a vibrant community. Avista is grateful for the relationships that have been built over 30 years. Avista is proud of our history and excited about our future.