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WUTC approves portion of Avista's rate hike request

December 16, 2011

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has approved an Avista Corp. rate hike request, just not in the amount the company requested.
The three-member commission agreed to let Avista collect an additional $23.7 million in electric and natural gas revenues starting on Jan. 1. The company had requested an additional $44.5 million when it made its rate hike application last spring.
The rate hike will mean average Avista electric customers will see their rate increase by $3.10 per month, for an average monthly bill of $81.93. Average natural gas customers will pay an additional $1.83, for a monthly bill of $66.69.
Basic service charges for electric or gas service will remain at $6 a month.
The commission also approved an increase of $370,000 in contributions to the Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance Program (LIRAP). The average residential electric customer will pay $7.68 per year to the LIRAP fund. The average natural gas customer will pay $8.76 per year for the LIRAP fund. Total funding available for the LIRAP program will be about $3.6 million for electric customers and approximately $1.8 million for natural gas customers.
“With the ever-growing number of households seeking assistance with their energy bills, these additional funds come at a critical time when charities and community organizations are stretching every dollar to help aid the public,” the commissioners said in their written decision.
An additional provision states the utility will not file another general rate case before April 1, 2012.
The commission received 394 public comments on Avista’s rate increase proposal – three in favor, 25 undecided and 366 opposed.
After listening to public comments by Avista customers in Spokane about their concern over the level of executive salaries, the UTC is seeking a more detailed breakdown of wages, bonuses and executive compensation to assist in further analysis. The company must respond by Feb. 29.
Avista serves more than 234,000 electric and nearly 147,000 natural gas customers in Washington.

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