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May 26 , 2017
 

Our customers expect their energy to be there when they need it, and so do we. To meet these expectations, we’re continually investing in our systems in an effort to maintain reliability and deliver value, at a reasonable cost for our customers.

 

Today, Avista filed two requests with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC or Commission) to recover costs related to power supply as well as infrastructure, system maintenance, and technology. If approved these filings would change the price customers pay for the energy they use.

 

While electric base rates for our customers have not increased since January of 2015, we understand that price adjustments can be a challenge. This is a key consideration as we make decisions about how and where to invest.

 

Power Cost Rate Adjustment

The first filing is an electric only power cost rate adjustment that would update and reset power supply costs included in billed rates, effective Sept. 1, 2017. The key drivers behind this request are related to expiration of a valuable wholesale sales contract with another utility and an increase in natural gas prices to fuel our generating plants. Updated power supply costs were not approved by the Commission in January 2017, as requested by Avista.

 

General Rate Request

The second filing includes electric and natural general rate requests. The main drivers of these requests are ongoing capital investments including upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas, pipe and technology.

 

Our rates are cost-based, meaning that the costs included in customer rates reflect the costs of the equipment when installed decades ago. When we replace or update old equipment with new equipment, it can cost many times more than when it was installed. This is the primary reason for our rate requests. Some examples of projects included in these requests are:

 

·         The ongoing and multi-year redevelopment of the 107-year-old Little Falls Powerhouse on the Spokane River to increase generation reliability. Work continues to replace the remaining two of four generating units and replace and modernize the plant equipment.

·         Continuing rehabilitation of the 109-year-old Nine Mile Powerhouse on the Spokane River, which includes upgrades to two of the generating units, work on the intake gates and a redesigned sediment bypass system.

·         Generator maintenance at the Kettle Falls biomass plant on equipment at the end of its expected life that will ensure uninterrupted and efficient generation and operations.

·         The ongoing project to systematically replace portions of natural gas distribution pipe, including hundreds of miles of natural gas distribution lines in Avista’s service area that were installed prior to 1987 as well as replacement of other natural gas service equipment.

·         Transmission and distribution system and asset maintenance, such as wood pole replacements, feeder upgrades, substation and transmission line rebuilds and replacement/repair of equipment that is no longer operating as it should to maintain reliability for our customers. 

·         Technology upgrades that support necessary business processes and operational efficiencies that allow Avista to effectively manage the utility and serve customers. We’re also completely refreshing our website so that it is easier to use, provides relevant information and is easily accessible on mobile devices. Earlier this year we implemented a new payment experience through the website that has streamlined this process for thousands of customers.

 

Here are the specifics of each filing:

 

Filing

Electric

Natural Gas

Power Cost Rate Adjustment

·         A request designed to increase billed revenues by $8.3 million or 5.4 percent.

·         Effective Sept. 1, 2017.

·         Bill increase of $2.58 or 3.1 percent per month.

·         Based on average usage of 938 kilowatt hours per month.

·         Expires at conclusion of general rate case, if approved.

N/A

General Rate Case Requests

·         A request designed to increase revenues by $61.4 million. Inclusive of the Power Cost Rate Adjustment, this would be a net increase in billed revenue of $46.4 million or 8.8 percent.

·         Effective May 1, 2018.

·         Bill increase of $8.05 or 9.2 percent per month.

·         Based on average usage of 938 kilowatt hours per month.

·         A request designed to increase billed revenues by $8.3 million or 5.4 percent.

·         Effective May 1, 2018.

·         Bill increase of $3.25 or 5.6 percent per month.

·         Based on average usage of 65 therms per month.

 

 

 

The actual percentage increase for electric and natural gas customers may vary by customer class and depend on how much energy a customer uses.

Three–Year plan

This proposal is a three-year plan, with new rates taking effect May 1, 2018 and annual changes in May 2019 and May 2020. This plan would provide our customers with some predictability in your expected future energy prices.

 

The rate case process and details about the filing

It’s important to remember that the Commission sets the rate you pay for the energy you use. There is a formal process through which price change requests are evaluated and decided upon. You can learn more about this here.

 

Take control of your energy use

Your monthly energy bill is influenced not only by the price of energy but also by the amount of energy you use. Avista offers a variety of ways for you to manage or reduce your usage and save on your bill. Learn more here.

 

We know you want prices that are fair and reasonable. You can read more about this request before the Commission, your rates in action, and the rate case process here.

Published: 5/26/2017  10:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 18 , 2017
 

 

When you pay your utility bill, you can be assured that your energy dollars, or rates, are put to good use. We want you to receive value for the price you pay for your energy service from Avista. You can see your rate dollars in action in many ways and in things like:

 

·         A helpful Avista rep on the other end of the phone line

·         A line worker fixing things when the power is out

·         Upgraded and more reliable substations and new poles that get the energy to your house

·         A new turbine generator in a dam that is producing more energy, more efficiently

·         New natural gas pipe that brings gas to your home

 

And much more.

 

For the last several years, we’ve spent significant money on projects across our system to maintain reliability of energy and upgrade equipment that helps us serve customers. This work is taking place every day, all year, to benefit our customers. It is projects like the new generating units at our Nine Mile Dam that replaced the original, hundred year old generators, and the refresh of our website that thousands of customers rely on to pay their bills and get important information about Avista. This kind of work is important and necessary. It is also a part of our requests to change the price customers pay for energy. We make these requests to make sure your rates match our costs to provide you service.  We keep your prices in mind as we make decisions on how to continually invest in our system, because we know you want fair prices. So do we.

 

Learn more about your rate dollars at work at avistautilities.com/aboutrates.

 

 

Published: 5/18/2017  10:12 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 17 , 2017
 

Avista and the other parties in the case have reached a full settlement agreement in our Oregon general rate case.

 

You may recall we filed a general rate request in Oregon on Nov. 30, 2016 to increase natural gas rates in Oregon to recover costs related to replacing certain natural gas service pipe, completion of a pipeline reinforcement project, and the rerouting of a high pressure pipeline.

 

This settlement agreement would conclude the rate case if approved by the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC).

 

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.

 

The outcome

If approved, the proposed settlement agreement would increase natural gas rates and is designed to increase annual billed revenue by 3.7 percent, or $3.5 million.

 

The actual percentage increase may vary by customer class and will depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage:

Natural Gas - customer using an average of 47 therms per month

·         Increase of $1.57 or 2.8 percent

·         A revised monthly bill from $56.18 to $57.75

·         The proposed monthly bill includes an increase in the monthly basic charge from $9.00 to $10.00

 

 

For more details about the settlement, read the new release here. You can also read more about the initial request here.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process here.

 

Published: 5/17/2017  2:45 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 11 , 2017

 

To bring our customers electricity, we generate power from 8 hydroelectric projects and 7 thermal generation plants, and receive power from 58 wind turbines. Then we send it over 19,000 miles of distribution lines across 30,000 square miles to more than 300,000 customers.

 

This is a massive infrastructure of poles, dams, turbines and substations to maintain and improve every year to make sure you have reliable, quality power. This maintenance and improvement is a major part of your energy prices.

 

One way we balance the need to do this work with the costs to our customers is through ongoing, systematic maintenance and upgrades. This means many of our projects are spread over several years, so that these costs won’t impact your prices all at once. One example is our wood pole management program, which is on a 20-year cycle, with inspection, maintenance and replacements happening every year.

 

We have about 240,000 distribution poles across our system. The average age of a wood pole is nearly 32 years, but about 56,000 are over 50 years old. To stay on our 20-year schedule, we have to inspect and perform any needed maintenance on 12,000 poles each year. 

 

Changes in costs for equipment and upgrades are another major reason for price increase requests. For example, a power pole installed in 1960 may have cost $60.16. A new pole in 2015, would have been $678.21. What you’re paying for in your current energy prices is the price of the power pole when it was installed, which may have been many years ago and costs more today.

 

As we improve and maintain the system to continue provide you with reliable energy, Avista strives to keep your energy costs low.

 

Learn more at avistautlities.com/aboutrates.

 

 

Published: 5/11/2017  12:43 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 31 , 2016
 

Earlier this month we filed rate adjustments in Idaho and Oregon. We recently made additional annual rate adjustment filings in Idaho and Washington that, if approved by the utility commissions in those states, would change rates for customers on Nov. 1, 2016.

 

Below are the details of each of these requested adjustments.

 

Idaho

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 61 therms per month:

·         Decrease of $4.65 or 8.4 percent per month

·         Revised monthly bill of $50.94

Read more about this filing here.

 

Washington

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) Decoupling

(Natural Gas)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 66 therms per month:

·         Decrease of $3.04 or 4.9 percent per month

·         Revised monthly bill from $61.85 to $58.81

Residential Exchange Program and Decoupling

(Electric)

Residential customer bills based on average usage 957 kilowatt hours per month:

·         Increase of $2.28 or 2.7 percent per month

·         Revised monthly bill from $83.91 to $86.19

Read more about these filings here.

 

About the filings

 

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

The PGA is an annual adjustment that balances the actual cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista with the amount already included in current rates - we do not mark up the cost of natural gas to meet customer needs. We are required to file the PGA each year, and costs can go up or down, based on the cost of wholesale natural gas.    

Residential Exchange Program

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Residential Exchange Program provides a share of the benefits of the federal Columbia River power system to the residential and small farm customers of the investor-owned utilities in the Pacific Northwest. We apply the benefits we receive, which typically fluctuate from year to year, to customers as a credit in their monthly electric rates.

Decoupling

Decoupling is a mechanism designed to break the link between a utility’s revenues and customers’ energy usage. Avista’s actual revenue, based on kilowatt hour and therm sales will vary, up or down, from the level included in a general rate case and approved by the Commission. This could be caused by changes in weather, energy conservation or the economy. The difference between revenues based on sales and revenues based on the number of customers is surcharged or rebated to customers beginning in the following year.

 

 

Published: 8/31/2016  2:46 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 01 , 2016
 

We’ve recently filed annual rate adjustments in Idaho and Oregon that, if approved by the utility commissions in those states, would change rates for customers. Here is an overview of what has been filed and what this means for you.

 

Idaho: Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) and Residential Exchange Program

If both requests are approved, a residential electric customer using an average of 918 kilowatt hours per month would see a decrease of $0.30 or 0.3 percent per month, for a revised monthly bill from $84.72 to $84.42, beginning Oct. 1, 2016.

 

Oregon: Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) and related filings

If the requests are approved, a residential natural gas customer using an average of 46 therms per month would see a decrease of $4.09 or 6.9 percent per month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.12, beginning Nov. 1, 2016.

 

About the Filings

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)

The PCA is an annual rate adjustment made to reflect certain differences between Avista’s actual cost of generating and purchasing electric power to serve customers and the cost currently included in customer rates.

Residential Exchange Program

The Residential Exchange Program provides a share of the benefits of the federal Columbia River power system to the residential and small farm customers of the investor-owned utilities in the Pacific Northwest. Avista applies the benefits it receives, which typically fluctuate from year to year, to customers as a credit in their monthly electric rates.

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

The PGA is an annual adjustment that balances the actual cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista with the amount already included in current rates - we do not mark up the cost of natural gas to meet customer needs. We file the PGA each year, and costs can go up or down, based on the cost of wholesale natural gas.

 
 
Published: 8/1/2016  9:52 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 26 , 2016
 

Today, Avista filed a general rate request with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Commission) to increase base rates for electric customers in Idaho. If approved, new rates would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

 

Electric Request and Customer Bills

 

Electric

The filing includes:

·         a request for a 6.3 percent increase in revenues

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $5.25  to $6.25

 

 

Bill:

A residential customer using an average of 918 kilowatt hours per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $6.54 per month or 7.7 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $91.26

 

 

The actual percentage increase for electric customers would vary by customer class and depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

Process and Timing

Avista cannot change customer rates on its own. The Commission approves or sets energy rates that are fair and reasonable for the customer and Avista. It can take up to nine months for the Commission to review the requests and make a decision, 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 set rates. You may hear updates on the process in the coming months.

 

The cost of energy and customer rates

The main driver in the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. These investments include upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities and transmission and distribution equipment. The costs of these investments continue to rise. Our rates are cost-based, meaning that the costs included in customer rates reflect the costs of the equipment when installed. When we replace or update old equipment with new equipment and technology, it can cost many times more than when it was originally installed.

 

What does this investment look like?

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

 

Little Falls Powerhouse Redevelopment

Our Little Falls dam has been generating renewable, low-cost power for more than 100 years, with equipment ranging from 60 to more than 100 years old. This multi-year project is replacing the unreliable equipment and modernizing the station service so that we can continue to provide reliable service for our customers. Throughout 2015, one of the four generating units was reassembled and put back in service and new LED lights were installed in the plant. In 2016, work is underway to disassemble the second of four generating units and reassemble with new equipment, as well as the installation of a new downstream warning system.

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 108-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power. In 2013, the last two (of four) original turbine-generating units were removed to make way for the new, more efficient units. Work in the powerhouse to install the new units began in 2014 along with a new warehouse, barge dock and crane pad. 

 

Post Falls South Channel Dam Upgrades

In 2016, Avista completed a two-year project that refurbished and upgraded the Post Falls South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project included replacing the original concrete with new concrete facing that helps control water levels of Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of three rivers, six new spill gates, frames and hoists along with a new spillway control system and electrical distribution that enable the structure to continue its role in generating reliable, clean and low-cost renewable energy.

 

Please visit our website here to learn more about this filing and the rate-making process.

Published: 5/26/2016  12:59 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 01 , 2016
 

Avista has received a decision from the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC), concluding the general rate case filed on May 1, 2015.

 

The Commission’s decision supports Avista’s continued investments in natural gas infrastructure such as replacing certain natural gas service pipe and other pipeline upgrades. These investments help ensure the safe and reliable delivery of energy that customers expect.

 

New rates take effect March 1, 2016.

 

What you can expect – Residential customer bills

The Commission-approved rates are designed to increase revenue by $4.5 million.

 

A residential natural gas customer using an average of 46 therms per month could expect to see, beginning March 1, 2016:

·         Increase of $2.83 or 5.6 percent per month

·         A revised monthly bill from $54.61 to $57.44

·         This reflects a $1.00 increase in the monthly basic charge

 

The actual percentage increase will vary by customer class and will depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

For more information about this decision and customer rates, visit avistautilities.com/ORrates.

Published: 3/1/2016  1:02 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 19 , 2016
 

Today, Avista filed general rate requests with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC or Commission) to increase base rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. This proposal includes an 18- month rate plan, with new rates taking effect Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018, if approved. Here are the details about the requests:

 

2017 Requests and Customer Bills – Beginning Jan. 1, 2017

 

Electric

Natural Gas

A residential customer using an average of 957 kilowatt hours per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $6.83 per month or 8.2 percent

·         An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.50  to $9.50

·         A revised monthly bill of $89.62

A residential customer using an average of 66 therms per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $2.13 per month or 3.5  percent

·         An increase in the monthly basic charge from $9.00 to $9.50

·         A revised monthly bill of $63.50

 

 

2018 Requests and Customer Bills – Beginning Jan. 1, 2018

 

Electric

Natural Gas

Under the proposal, residential electric customers would not experience a billed rate increase on Jan. 1, 2018 due to a rebate related to the Energy Recovery Mechanism (ERM). The ERM rebate would offset the residential base rate increase of 4.2 percent for January through June 2018.

 

A residential customer using an average of 66 therms per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $0.79 per month or 1.2  percent

·         No change to the monthly basic charge

·         A revised monthly bill of $64.29

 

 

The actual percentage increase for electric and natural gas customers would vary by customer class and depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

Process and Timing

Avista cannot change customer rates on its own. The Commission approves or sets energy rates that are fair and reasonable for the customer and Avista. It can take up to 11 months for the Commission to review the requests and make a decision, 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 set rates. You may hear updates on the process in the coming months.

 

The cost of energy and customer rates

The main driver in the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. These investments include upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas pipe and new meter technology. The costs of these investments continue to rise. Our rates are cost-based, meaning that the costs included in customer rates reflect the costs of the equipment when installed. When we replace or update old equipment with new equipment and technology, it can cost many times more than when it was installed.

 

What does this investment look like?

Below are some of the large, multi-year capital projects and investments that are included in the rate request.

 

Little Falls Powerhouse Redevelopment

Our Little Falls dam has been generating renewable, low-cost power for more than 100 years, with equipment ranging from 60 to more than 100 years old. This multi-year project is replacing the unreliable equipment and modernizing the station service so that we can continue to provide reliable service for our customers. Throughout 2015, one of the four generating units was reassembled and put back in service and new LED lights were installed in the plant. In 2016, work is underway to disassemble the second of four generating units and reassemble with new equipment, as well as the installation of a new downstream warning system.

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 108-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power. In 2013, the last two (of four) original turbine-generating units were removed to make way for the new, more efficient units. Work in the powerhouse to install the new units began in 2014 along with a new warehouse, barge dock and crane pad. 

 

Natural Gas Pipe Replacement

Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of older natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline to support a continuation of reliable service for our customers. In 2016, work will take place across all three states we serve, including Spokane, WA, Genesee, ID, Klamath Falls, OR and more. Learn more about this work and view all locations scheduled for 2016 here.

 

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Avista continues to invest in modernizing our grid to meet current and future energy needs. In 2016, Avista will plan for deploying Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in Washington. Currently, Avista has only installed around 13,000 advanced meters in Pullman as part of our Smart Grid Demonstration Project. This multi-year AMI project includes installation of advanced meters in Washington.

 

Advanced meters allow for two-way communication between Avista and customers. The new advanced meters are digital and equipped with secure, wireless communications technology that allow for two-way communication between Avista and customers. The technology creates the foundation for future customer benefits, including faster outage detection and restoration of service, plus near real-time energy use information and energy usage alerts. These capabilities will allow customers to better understand and manage their energy use.

2015 Windstorm

The November 2015 windstorm was the worst natural disaster in Avista’s history. Near hurricane-force winds knocked down trees which brought down power poles, power lines, transformers and other equipment. A portion of this rate request is to recover costs to replace equipment and infrastructure damaged in the storm. You should know storm expenses will not be recovered all at once but rather spread out over many years—similar to how other infrastructure costs are included in rates.

 

Please visit our website here to learn more about this filing and the rate-making process.

Published: 2/19/2016  1:13 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 18 , 2016
 

Avista received a final order from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission or UTC) that concludes the electric and natural gas general rate cases filed on Feb. 9, 2015. New rates take effect on Jan. 11, 2016.

 

The Commission approved rates designed to provide a 1.6 percent, or $8.1 million decrease in electric base revenue, and a 7.4 percent, or $10.8 million increase in natural gas base revenue.

 

Throughout the process

Throughout the rate case process, certain circumstances and costs changed, causing Avista to revise its overall proposed rate requests downward, especially for electric operations. 

 

Avista’s need for rate relief was reduced primarily due to a decrease in power supply costs of approximately $24 million, largely driven by the continuing decline in the price of natural gas used to run the company’s gas-fired generation, along with other cost updates and revisions.

 

These kinds of updates and revisions are an important part of the process and are positive for customers. They help ensure that customer rates are reflective of the most current information and numbers.

 

The natural gas revenue increase approved by the Commission is related to Avista’s ownership and operating costs to run the natural gas business. Changes in the commodity costs of natural gas for natural gas customers are reflected in Avista’s annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment, which is generally effective November 1st each year. On Nov. 1, 2015 natural gas customers’ bills were reduced approximately 15 percent related to the decline in the market price of natural gas.

 

What does this mean?

In addition to the rate changes mentioned above, there are other factors influencing customer rates.  

·         The Commission approved a multi-year funding plan for Avista’s Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP). The increase in LIRAP funding results in a $320,000, or 0.1 percent increase in electric revenue and a $391,000, or 0.3 percent increase in natural gas revenue for these programs.

·         Avista’s electric customers in Washington are currently receiving benefits from a rebate related to the Energy Recovery Mechanism (ERM) that has been reducing customer bills by 1.6 percent, totaling approximately $8.2 million on an annual basis. This rebate will expire effective Jan. 11, 2016. The expiration of the rebate will result in a 1.6 percent increase in customer bills.

 

Based on these components, electric rates will slightly increase and natural gas rates will increase.

 

Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage

 

Electric – residential customer using an average 966 kilowatt hours per month

·         Increase of $0.15 or .02 percent per month.

·         No change to the basic monthly charge. This stays at $8.50.

·         Numbers are inclusive of base rate decrease, increase in LIRAP funding and expiring ERM rebate.

Natural Gas - customer using an average of 68 therms per month

·         Increase of $4.63 or 7.9 percent per month.

·         Revised monthly bill of $62.96.

·         No change to the basic monthly charge. This stays at $9.00.

·         Numbers are inclusive of increase in base rates and increase in LIRAP funding.

 

This outcome is positive for customers and Avista. Reductions in Avista’s costs lessen the rate increase amount for customers, and the approved rates are designed to allow Avista to continue to recover the costs of serving customers and investing in infrastructure and systems.

 

For more details, read the news release here.

 

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

 

 
Published: 1/18/2016  11:26 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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