Skip to main content
Avista Utilities Blog

Avista Utilities Blog

Search
Avista Utilities Blog
Home
  
 

Other Blogs
There are no items in this list.
Avista receives final order from Commission in Washington electric and natural gas rate requests
 

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.

 

 
Avista receives approval on all-party settlement in Idaho electric and natural gas general rate case
 

Avista received approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Commission) of the all-party settlement that was filed on Oct. 19, 2015, concluding our 2015 electric and natural gas general rate case. New rates will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

 

This case is separate from the Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) that took effect on Nov. 1, 2015.

 

The approved rates are designed to increase annual electric base revenues by 0.7 percent and natural gas base revenues by 4.1 percent on Jan. 1, 2016.

 

Residential customer bills based on average usage

An average residential customer can expect to see the following, beginning Jan. 1, 2016:

 

Electric - customer using an average of 929 kilowatt hours per month

·         Increase of $0.75 or 0.9 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $85.74

·         No increase in the basic monthly charge (remains at $5.25 per month)

 

Natural gas - customer using an average of 61 therms per month

·         Increase of $3.20 or 6.2 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $54.48

·         An increase of $1.00 in the basic monthly charge, from $4.25 to $5.25 (this is included in the revised bill amount above)

·         The numbers above include the effects of the Nov. 1, 2015 Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) which reduced average customer rates by 13.4 percent

 

 

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

 

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

A settlement is reached in Idaho electric and natural gas general rate case
 

On Oct. 19, 2015, Avista announced a settlement agreement between all parties that, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Commission), would conclude the electric and natural gas general rate requests in Idaho. New rates would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

 

You may recall we filed a general rate request on June 1, 2015 to increase electric and natural gas base rates in Idaho to recover costs related to ongoing investments in our infrastructure such as upgrades and maintenance of our hydroelectric facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas pipe, and information technology.

 

Overall, the settlement would increase annual electric base revenues by 0.7 percent and natural gas base revenues by 3.5 percent. What does that look like for residential customers?

 

Part of the settlement includes two rebates.

·         Extension through 2017 of a $2.8 million rebate customers are currently receiving.

·         Extension of a portion of a $1.2 million rebate customers are currently receiving. Avista proposed to use $0.2 million to do this, with customers receiving the rebate in 2016. 

 

Residential customer bills based on average usage:

 

Electric - customer using an average of 929 kilowatt hours per month

·         Increase of $0.75 or 0.9 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $85.74

·         No increase in the basic monthly charge (remains at $5.25 per month)

 

Natural gas - customer using an average of 61 therms per month

·         Increase of $3.19 or 5.4 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $62.41

·         An increase of $1.00 in the basic monthly charge, from $4.25 to $5.25

 

 

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

 

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

 

Avista makes annual price adjustment requests in Washington and Idaho
 

Today, we announced we have filed annual rate adjustment requests in Washington and Idaho that, if approved by the commission in each state would impact electric and natural gas rates and take effect on Nov. 1, 2015.

 

These adjustment filings include:

 

·         Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) in Idaho and Washington

·         Residential Exchange Program in Washington

 

These filings are annual adjustment requests that are separate from a general rate case.

 

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 on their monthly electric bill.

 

Washington  

Filing

Drivers

Residential Customer Bills

PGA

·         A reduction in wholesale natural gas commodity costs due to a warmer than normal winter.

·         An abundance of natural gas held in storage.

·         Continued high production levels of natural gas.

·         Decrease of $10.17 per month or 14.9 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $57.99

·         Based on average usage of 68 therms per month

Residential Exchange Program

·         The benefit Avista will receive from BPA starting in October 2015 will be lower than the current level of benefits currently being passed through to qualified customers.

·         Increase of $2.69 per month or 3.3 percent

·         Monthly bill change from $80.70 to $83.39

·         Based on average usage of 966 kilowatt hours per month

 

Idaho

Filing

Drivers

Residential Customer Bills

PGA

·         Reduction in natural gas commodity costs due to a warmer than normal winter.

·         An abundance of natural gas held in storage.

·         Continued high production levels of natural gas.

·         Decrease of $7.94 or 13.4 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $51.28

·         Based on average usage of 61 therms per month

 

Current Natural Gas Bill

Approximately 50 percent of an Avista customer’s natural gas bill is the cost of purchasing and transporting natural gas and 50 percent of the bill is delivery of natural gas to our customers, by Avista.

 

Read the news releases for Washington and Idaho.

 

A rate increase request has been filed in Idaho - What you need to know
Today, Avista filed a multi-year electric and natural gas rate request with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (Commission) which, if approved, would increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Idaho in 2016 and 2017. Here are the details about the request:

Electric

The 2016 filing includes:

  • a request for a 5.2 percent overall increase in revenues, primarily for capital investments
  • a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $5.25 to $8.50

The 2017 filing includes:

  • a request for a 5.1 percent overall increase in revenues, primarily related to power supply and capital investments

2016 bill change:

The bill change for a residential customer using an average of 929 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
  • $5.92 per month or 6.9 percent
  • for a revised monthly bill of $91.16

2017 bill change:

The bill change for a residential customer using an average of 929 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
  • $6.10 per month or 6.7 percent
  • for a revised monthly bill of $97.26
Natural Gas

The 2016 filing includes:

  • a request for an overall increase in revenues of 5.8 percent
  • a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $4.25 to $8.00

The 2017 filing includes:

  • a request for an overall increase in revenues of 2.5 percent

2016 bill change:

The bill change for a residential customer using an average of 929 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
  • $3.90 per month or 6.6 percent
  • for a revised monthly bill of $63.12

2017 bill change:

The bill change for a residential customer using an average of 61 therms per month would be, if approved:
  • $1.79 per month or 2.8 percent
  • for a revised monthly bill of $64.91

Timing
This request will take time to be reviewed. In Idaho, this can take up to nine 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 last general rate request filing in Idaho was Oct. 10, 2012.
 
The cost of energy and customer rates
The primary driver in the request 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 information technology.
 
Keeping rates fair and reasonable for our customers is a key part of our decision making. It’s a balance. The cost to produce energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.
 
What does this investment look like?
Below are some of the capital projects and investments that are included in the rate request.
 
Nine Mile Powerhouse Project
We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 107-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable 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.
 
Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System
Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of our day-to-day customer operations. 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. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, over time it needed to be replaced. Years of work and investment in technology led to the launch of the new system in early February 2015.
 
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 2015, work will take place across all three states we serve, including Spokane, WA, Post Falls, ID, Lewiston, ID, Medford, OR and more. Learn more about this work and view all locations scheduled for 2015 here.
 
Learn more about the rate-making process by watching this video and reading the Rates fact sheet. Read the news release which includes the requested increase by service schedule.
A general rate request filed in Oregon
 

Today, Avista filed a general rate request with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) to increase natural gas billed rates in Oregon by an overall eight percent.

 

You may have seen that new rates as a result of our previous general rate case went into effect on April 16, 2015 and wonder why we need to file a rate case right now.

 

Our requests continue to be driven by the needs we have to invest in our infrastructure and systems we use to serve our customers.

 

Details and Residential Customer Bills Based on Average Usage

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

·         Increase of $5.68 per month or 8.9 percent

·         A revised monthly bill from $63.65 to $69.33

·         An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.00 to $10.00

 

 

What Does This Look Like - Replacing Infrastructure

Projects included in this rate request include our efforts to systematically maintain and replace our natural gas infrastructure. This work is important to maintain the integrity of our system and so that we can continue to provide the reliable energy our customers expect.

 

Some examples of infrastructure work included in this rate request include:

·         The continuation of 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.

·         Completion of a pipeline in southeast Medford to meet current and future natural gas delivery needs.

·         An upgrade to the Ladd Canyon Gate Station that is currently at its capacity, to accommodate growth.

 

Our rates are cost-based, meaning they reflect the cost of the old equipment serving customers. When the equipment is replaced, the higher cost for equipment today is many times more expensive than when installed and results in the need for an incremental increase in rates. For example, the cost of a gas distribution main 50 years ago was approximately eight percent of the current cost to replace it.

 

Timeline

In Oregon, the PUC has up to 10 months to review and make a decision. During this time, the PUC will review our costs, review relevant data, take input from stakeholders (known as intervenors) and listen to public testimony. With this information, they will approve rates they feel are reasonable and fair. If approved, new rates would take effect no later than March 1, 2016.

 

Learn about the rate-making process here. Read the news release about this request here.

A rate increase request filed in Washington - What you need to know
 

Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Here are the details about the request:

 

Electric

The filing includes:

·         a request for a 6.7 percent increase in revenues, primarily for capital investments

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8.50  to $14.00

 

 

Bill impact:

The bill impact for a customer using an average of 966 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $6.45 per month or 7.9 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $87.67

 

 

Natural Gas

The filing includes:

·         a request for an increase in revenues of 6.9 percent

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $9.00 to $12.00

 

 

Bill impact:

 The bill impact for a customer using an average of 68 therms per month would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $5.41 per month or 7.9  percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $73.57

 

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. You may hear updates in 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 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 to produce energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.

 

What does this investment look like?

 

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

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 107-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable 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.

 

Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System

Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of our day-to-day customer operations. 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. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, over time it needed to be replaced. Years of work and investment in technology led to the launch of the new system in early February 2015.

 

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 2015, work will take place across all three states we serve, including Spokane, WA, Post Falls, ID, Lewiston, ID, Medford, OR and more. Learn more about this work and view all locations scheduled for 2015 here.

 

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Avista continues to invest in modernizing our grid to meet current and future energy needs. In 2015, Avista is planning for the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in Washington. This multi-year AMI project includes installing advanced meters, beginning in 2016.

 

Advanced meters 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.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process. Watch this video. Read this one-sheet.

Settlement Reached in Oregon Natural Gas Rate Request
 

Today, Avista announced that a full settlement agreement has been reached in Oregon in our general rate case.

 

You may recall we filed a general rate request in Oregon on Sept. 2, 2014 to increase natural gas base rates in Oregon to recover costs related to replacing certain natural gas service pipe and updated technology that is the backbone of Avista’s customer information system. 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.

 

What Does This Mean?

If approved, the proposed settlement agreement would increase natural gas rates.

Below is a summary of the terms of the agreement:

Item(s)

Details and Results

Base revenues

·       Increase natural gas by 6.1 percent or $6.1 million.

Offsets

·       Offset by $0.262 million that the company is already receiving from customers through a separate rate adjustment.

·       Offset by a $0.85 million credit to customers related to having an early implementation date for the revenue increase (prior to the full 10 months allowed in Oregon for the PUC to make a decision on the case and new rates to take effect).

Overall change

·       The overall change in natural gas customer billing rates from the settlement agreement is 4.9 percent. This is an increase of $5 million in billed revenues for Avista.

 

The actual percentage increase will 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 $3.23 or 5.3 percent

·         A revised monthly bill from $60.50 to $63.73

·         No increase in the basic monthly charge (remains at $8 per month)

 

 

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. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.

Avista receives approval in Washington electric and natural gas rate requests

On Nov. 25, 2014, Avista received approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission or UTC) on the all-party settlement in our electric and natural gas general rate case. New rates will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

 

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. This approval from the Commission concludes the rate case and supports these efforts.

 

What Does This Mean?

The Commission’s approval will 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.

 

The overall change in customer billing rates, including the expiring and new rebates, is 2.5 percent for electric customers and 5.6 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 2.7 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $81.13

·         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 $3.70 or 6.0 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $64.89

·         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.

 

For more details, read the new release here and the blog regarding the settlement here.

 

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

 
Annual Price Adjustments go into Effect
 

Over the last couple of months, we’ve told you about annual rate adjustments that we have filed with our utility commissions in each of the states we serve. These included annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustments (PGA) filed in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, the Idaho Power Cost Adjustment (PCA), and rate adjustments in the Washington and Idaho Residential Exchange Programs.

 

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)

Residential Exchange Program

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.

The PCA is an annual rate adjustment in Idaho 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.

 

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 on their monthly electric bill.

 

 

These rate adjustments, filed between July 30, 2014 and Sept. 15, 2014, have been approved by the various utility commissions, and customers will begin seeing these in reflected in their monthly utility bills, as of Oct. 1 (Idaho PCA and Idaho Residential Exchange Program) and Nov. 1 (all other filings). Below are the details of each of these adjustments in each state.

 

Idaho

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 60 therms per month:

·        Decrease of $1.16 or 2 percent

·        Revised monthly bill of $58.32

Power Cost Adjustment and Residential Exchange Program

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 930 kilowatt hours per month:

·        Increase of $3.45 or 4.2 percent per month

·        Revised monthly bill from $81.88 to $85.33

 

 

Read more about these filings here and here.

 

Oregon

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 47 therms per month:

·        Increase of $4.36 or 7.8 percent

General rate change from 2013 general rate case

This increase is to recover capital costs related to natural gas pipe replacement:

·        Increase of $0.17 or 0.3 percent

Overall

Residential increase of 8.1 percent with a revised monthly bill from $55.97 to 60.50

Read more about these filings here and here.

 

Washington

Filing

Details

Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)

Residential customer bills based on average usage of 65 therms per month:

·        Increase of $0.65 or 1.1 percent

·        Revised monthly bill of $61.84

Residential Exchange Program

Residential customer bills based on average usage 965 kilowatt hours per month:

·        Decrease of $1.06 per month or 1.3 percent

·        Revised monthly bill from $80.09 to $79.03

Read more about these filings here.

 

 

1 - 10 Next