Feb 06 , 2013
Proposed settlement provides more certainty for customers to manage energy costs over the next two years
Today we announced a settlement agreement with several parties on the Idaho electric and natural gas general rate requests we filed back in October
. You can read our news release here
. The settlement, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or commission) would mean a two-phase rate increase in electric and natural gas rates. The first would take effect April 1, 2013 and the second on Oct. 1, 2013.
As part of the settlement, we’ve agreed not to request additional general rate increases that would take effect before Jan. 1 of 2015. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t adjust rates based on power supply or wholesale natural gas costs before then (remember, that’s a separate part of your bill). For more information about how we adjust those costs, read our Natural Gas Pricing 101
series or visit our website area About Natural Gas and Power Costs
But what it does mean is that you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better plan to manage your energy costs. And your energy prices will still be among the lowest in the nation
The bottom line
Here’s how the changes, if approved would affect your energy bill.
If the commission approves the settlement and you are an Avista electric customer, you would see one general rate increase:
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an increase of $2.04 per month, for a revised bill of $80.73.
Here’s how the changes, if approved, would affect you as a natural gas customer:
• Beginning April 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an increase of $2.82 a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.37.
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an additional increase of 31 cents a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.68.
The settlement and what’s next
You may be wondering what a rate case settlement agreement is and how it all works. When Avista files a request to increase rates, it goes through a process much like a legal proceeding. Parties representing various groups including residential, small-business, low-income and electric industrial customers, participate on behalf of their groups.
The commission oversees this process, and is charged with setting rates that are fair, just, and reasonable for customers, while allowing Avista the opportunity to earn a fair return on the investment shareholders make so we can continue delivering safe, reliable energy. When we can reach an agreement like this one, it saves time and the cost of a fully litigated rate case. It is ultimately up to the commission to approve the request.
In addition to Avista, the parties to the proposed settlement are the Staff of the IPUC, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Idaho Forest Group and The Idaho Conservation League. The IPUC will establish a procedural schedule to gather comments on the proposed settlement from parties to the rate case, as well as customers of Avista, prior to making a decision. For more information, see the IPUC website
Here is another resource about how energy rates are set that you might find helpful.
Dec 26 , 2012
Households that are having trouble paying their heating bills this winter will receive help as the result of $226,000 in donations Avista and our employees made to Project Share (see news release).
An additional $100,000 is going to 19 human care service organizations in eastern Washington chosen by our CAREs representatives (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service).
“We know that the economy of our service territory continues to be depressed and that it is difficult for families to make ends meet. The organizations receiving these Project Share and CARES donations are an important safety net, and they provide important assistance that helps those most in need meet the costs of housing, food and medicine, and keeping their homes warm this winter,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp.
Project Share will receive $226,000 from Avista and its employees. The program, which is administered by SNAP in eastern Washington and by community action programs in other areas of our service territory, provides emergency grants to help families meet energy costs regardless of the fuel used to heat their home. In 2011, more than 2,100 households received emergency energy assistance through Project Share. The funds for this donation come from company profits and employee donations and are not included as a cost to customers in developing rates.
“This donation is another amazing example of Avista taking the initiative to support our neighbors during difficult times,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “We greatly value this collaborative effort that continues to be a vital benefit to our community. More homes will stay warm throughout the winter because of this.”
Additionally, Avista is partnering with 19 community service agencies in eastern Washington to make grants for energy assistance to qualifying Avista customers in need this winter.
Avista has contributed a total of $100,000 to the agencies for customers who have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources. The organizations were identified by Avista’s CARES representatives, who are specially trained and who work closest with our most vulnerable customers.
The funds for the CARES donations come from a state utility tax credit Avista receives that is associated with our low-income energy assistance programs.
Dec 17 , 2012
$28,150 donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon
Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank
last fall. .
For some residents of the Pacific Northwest, feeding their families can be one of the biggest challenges they face each month. Forty-seven food banks in Avista’s service territory
will have a bit more money to stock their shelves in the months ahead as the result of grants issued by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation. A total of $28,150 has been donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon by Avista Corp.
and the Avista Foundation.
“Community food banks are providing vital safety-net services in the communities we serve. Through their buying power and relationships with food producers, the food banks are able to leverage donations like ours to bring several times their value to help stock the shelves for those in need,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp. “Helping limited income families and seniors meet their nutritional needs is an important part of our emphasis on providing assistance to reduce poverty in the communities served by Avista Utilities.”
In addition, Avista employees donated $8,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank during “Tom’s Turkey Drive,” a Thanksgiving event sponsored by KREM television. Avista Foundation matched that amount, for a total donation to Second Harvest of $16,000.
Funding for donations, other than employee gifts, comes from foundation funds and company profits. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.
Nov 28 , 2012
This hydroelectric dam on the Clark Fork River is still a youngster at 60 years old
Whenever you flip a light switch, plug in an appliance, or turn on your furnace, you expect and receive energy on demand. Since the completion of our very first hydroelectric project in 1890, Avista’s dams have generated dependable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible power for our customers.
We’ve been celebrating the 60th anniversary of one of our youngest dams, Cabinet Gorge, throughout the year. Recently we had a banner produced that will hang in the control center at the dam. In November, Avista received special recognition from Idaho Lt. Governor Brad Little. The Lieutenant Governor presented a proclamation honoring
the contribution of Cabinet Gorge to the region and the state of Idaho.
This year also marks the 14th year of successful, collaborative implementation of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources associated with our Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project. The agreement, signed in 1999 after several years of negotiation, resulted in a 45-year operating license from FERC to operate Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.
With growing development of renewable energy like wind and solar, which depend on variable fuel sources, our dams are even more important as a dependable source of energy. Water can be stored and hydropower plants can be fired up quickly to meet energy need when the wind isn’t blowing.
Oct 11 , 2012
This special service dog lent a paw, at Avista's recent
energy fair in Idaho.
Nearly 200 people - and one very special service dog - attended Avista’s Energy Fair at the Hayden Family Center in Coeur d’Alene yesterday.
The gymnasium was buzzing with conversations about how to keep cold air outside the home this winter by installing items like window plastic and outlet covers to keep drafts from coming indoors. The materials were provided free as part of the energy efficiency tote bag every attendee received as they arrived. Community partners, including the Idaho Department of Labor, ElderHelp of Idaho and the Community Action Partnership talked with fair-goers about the community services and resources available in Kootenai County.
Once the learning was done, warm servings of chili and cornbread quenched the appetites of young and old alike, served up by the ladies from Christ Kitchen, a non-profit that provides job training for women and delicious catering for us to enjoy.
The Avista Energy Fair is one of several outreach activities our company shares with the communities we serve. It gives us an opportunity to personally share information with our customers in locations close to your homes and businesses – making it more convenient for you to find the answers to your questions.
The final Energy Fair for 2012 is scheduled for Thursday, November 8 at Spokane’s East Central Community Center, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more here.
Oct 11 , 2012
If increases are approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year
This power pole in Hayden, Idaho, has deteriorated
to the point where it needs to be replaced. We have
over 240,000 distribution poles in our electric system.
Based on a 40-year depreciable life, we would need
to replace approximately 6,000 poles every year.
If our requests are approved and you’re an electric residential customer in Idaho using an average of 930 kilowatt hours per month, you would see an increase of $4.20 per month, or about 14 cents a day, for a revised bill of $82.89. If you’re a natural gas customer using an average of 60 therms per month, you would see an increase of $4.12, or about 14 cents a day, for a revised monthly bill of $56.67. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has up to seven months to approve our requests, and the increases wouldn’t take effect until sometime next year.
You may be thinking we just heard about a rate decrease, so why an increase? The costs of delivering energy to you safely and reliably continue to rise. We work hard to manage our costs, while making sure you have the reliable energy that you expect, at some of the lowest prices in the Northwest. The good news is we’ve been able to pass savings from lower natural gas prices and power costs through to you with multiple rate decreases, and we hope this will help soften the impact of the rising costs of delivery to your energy bill.
Rates have decreased throughout 2012
Effective Oct. 1, if you are an Idaho customer, you saw decreases in both natural gas and electric rates
because of lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs, after the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved our rate decrease requests filed in July. Your rates have decreased your natural gas rates twice this year, dropping them by approximately 12 percent overall. In fact, even if today’s rate increase request is approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year – and around what they were 10 years ago. Electric rates have remained fairly flat as well when you adjust for inflation.
We’re maintaining and upgrading our system for you
Maintaining and upgrading our energy-delivery system is ongoing, and costs more with each passing year. It’s a little like taking care of your home or car. You always have maintenance and operation costs, and sometimes you have to upgrade or update old equipment with new. And that’s expensive. For instance, if you remodel your kitchen, new appliances cost much more than the old ones did when they were purchased.
To serve all of our customers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, Avista has an extensive system that we have to take care of. To do this, we expect to invest approximately $250 million each year for the next three to five years to continue updating and maintaining our system to serve our customers’ energy needs.
Help is available if you’re struggling with bills
We realize in these difficult economic times it can be a struggle for people to meet their basic needs. We offer services for customers such as comfort level billing, payment arrangements and CARES (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Services) representatives. Our CARES reps are specially-trained employees who provide referrals to area agencies and churches for customers with special needs for help with housing, utilities, medical assistance, and other needs. To learn more, visit www.avistautilities.com
Oct 09 , 2012
Area residents will learn about energy efficiency, managing their home energy bills and more at the free Avista Energy Fair 2012. It will be held in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, October 10 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Harding Family Center, 411 North 15th Street.
Avista employees and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about the following:
-Energy Efficiency – See low-cost and no-cost efficiency demonstrations for solutions like rope caulking, door sweeps and window plastic. Free samples will be handed out.
-Bill Assistance – Avista customer service representatives can answer billing questions, provide information about payment options and refer to energy assistance programs. You can also learn how to use Avista's free online Bill Analyzer.
-Community Assistance – Avista and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about energy assistance, weatherization and other topics.
-Kids Meet Wattson – Stop by and see Wattson the Energy Watchdog! Kids activities include crafts, dancing and interactive games.
Parking is free and there will be complimentary food and beverages, door prizes and activities for the kids at most locations. Avista will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations that are requested for individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Community Development Consumer Affairs Office at (509) 495-8024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
if accommodations are needed.
Oct 01 , 2012
If you’re an Avista customer in Idaho, we’ve got good news for you just in time for the cooler months of fall and winter. Beginning today and through the winter months, depending on your energy usage, you’ll see lower electric and natural gas rates. That’s because last week the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved several rate decrease requests
we filed in July.
Rates for our natural gas customers in Idaho have decreased twice this year because of lower wholesale prices. Overall, natural gas rates have dropped by almost 12 percent in 2012.
Today’s decreases are mostly because of lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs. You might remember we reduced natural gas rates for Idaho customers in March by 6 percent. Like then, abundant supplies of natural gas and lower demand have continued to push wholesale natural gas prices downward. That’s good news. Why? Because we pass those savings directly through to you. The cost of purchasing natural gas on the wholesale market is around 40 percent of your bill, so it makes a difference.
The same can be said for electricity. About 60 cents of every dollar you pay for electricity goes towards generating or purchasing the energy itself. So when power supply costs are lower, it means your bill is a little lower. And every little bit adds up.
Starting today, if you use an average of 939 kilowatt-hours per month, you’ll see your electricity bill decrease $1.09 per month to $79.46. If you are a natural gas customer using an average of 60 therms a month, you will see your bill decrease $3.23 to $52.55 per month.
Sep 10 , 2012
The Avista Energy Fair will be in Lewiston, Idaho
tomorrow at the Lewiston Community Center from
3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Hope to see you there.
The Avista Energy Fair
will be in Lewiston, Idaho tomorrow at the Lewiston Community Center from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. It will offer demonstrations of ways to keep homes warm and safe for the winter ahead. Fair attendees can speak with Avista staff and learn first-hand about low-cost and no-cost energy efficiency tips. They’ll see how to install window draft stoppers like rope caulk, window plastic and v-seal. Free samples of these and other materials to help people maximize energy efficiency in their homes will be given out at the fair.
In addition, Avista employees will have information about billing assistance and payment options. Avista community partners will also be on hand to offer helpful information about other community resources.
Each year our customers ask for help in managing their energy use and costs during the winter. It’s never too early in the year for us to offer a broad range of ideas and demonstrations that will help residents keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside their homes. This event provides a great way for customers to conveniently access Avista’s many services. Information about payment options, energy assistance and energy efficiency will be especially helpful to those struggling to pay their bills.
Energy Fair Details
Tuesday, September 11
3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Lewiston Community Center
1424 Main St., Lewiston, ID
Price = Free
Jul 31 , 2012
Today Avista filed several requests with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to decrease natural gas and electric prices for our customers in Idaho. If approved, natural gas prices would decrease by an overall 8 percent and electric prices by an overall 2 percent for our Idaho customers beginning Oct. 1. This would be the second natural gas price reduction for our customers in Idaho this year. Read more about these filings in the press release we just issued
Each year, we propose to adjust rates our customers pay so that customers’ bills reflect our actual costs of purchasing natural gas and generating and purchasing electric power. Today’s requested rate reductions are due to, among other things, lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs, which is good news for our customers. Learn more about Natural gas prices.
You may recall the commission in Idaho approved our request to reduce natural gas rates by an overall 6 percent in March. If today’s requests are approved, natural gas rates will have decreased by more than 14 percent overall for Idaho customers in 2012.
Today’s requests include two electric rate adjustments and two natural gas rate adjustments:
• Avista’s annual Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)
• Avista’s annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)
• Electric and Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Tariff Rider Adjustments (Tariff Rider)
Post Falls Dam - a hydroelectric
facility in Idaho.
The major portion of an Avista electric customer’s bill, about 60 percent, is the cost of generating or purchasing electricity to meet customer needs. These costs may fluctuate up or down. The proposed PCA rebate would pass through reduced power supply costs during the twelve-month period that ended June 30, 2012.
We also filed a request with the IPUC to reduce the electric Energy Efficiency Tariff Rider Adjustment (Tariff Rider). The Tariff Rider is the rate paid by customers that funds the company’s energy efficiency programs.
The two proposed rate decreases will be offset partially by the expiration of an existing refund rate being passed through to customers.
If today’s requests are approved by the commission, the monthly bill for a residential electric customer in Idaho using an average of 939 kilowatt-hours per month would decrease from $80.55 to $79.46, a decrease of $1.09 per month, or 1.4 percent, beginning Oct. 1.
New gas pipelines being
installed new Highway 95 in
The combined costs of purchasing natural gas on the wholesale market and transporting it to Avista’s system makes up about 55 percent of an Avista natural gas customer’s bill, and these costs fluctuate up and down based on market prices. Avista does not mark these costs up. Read more about this in our Avista Blog series Natural Gas Pricing 101, Part 1: Wholesale Prices.
The annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) is a true-up that balances the cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista to serve customers with the amount already included in customer rates. Abundant supplies of natural gas and continued soft demand for the commodity have continued to keep wholesale natural gas prices at lower levels over the past year.
Our second natural gas rate request filed with the IPUC is to reduce the natural gas Energy Efficiency Tariff Rider Adjustment (Tariff Rider). Similar to the electric Tariff Rider for energy efficiency, the natural gas Tariff Rider is the rate paid by customers that funds the Company’s natural gas energy efficiency programs.
If our requests are approved, residential natural gas customers using an average of 60 therms a month would see a $4.42, or 7.9 percent, decrease in their monthly rate for a revised monthly bill of $51.36, beginning Oct. 1.