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Avista reports lower earnings due to mild winter

Avista Corp. saw its earnings drop in the first quarter, and officials with the Spokane company say weather was largely to blame.

“We had a challenging first quarter because our region experienced one of the warmest January to March periods on record combined with low precipitation and snowpack,” Chairman, President and CEO Scott Morris said in a statement this morning. “This weather pattern reduced our retail loads, hydroelectric generation and net income.”

The company today reported net income of $28.8 million, or 52 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter. That compares to $31 million, or 57 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2009.

Net income for Avista’s utilities operation was $27.8 million in the first quarter, down from $30.6 million a year ago.


“Largely due to warmer than normal weather, residential electric use per customer was down 11 percent and residential natural gas use per customer was down 21 percent as compared to the first quarter of 2009,” Morris said. “Commercial use per customer decreased 8 percent for electric and 23 percent for natural gas.”

Despite the weather impact, Avista said it is confirming its 2010 earnings guidance with the expectation it will be at the low end of the range.

“We continue to aggressively manage our business, and I believe we are well positioned to continue our long-term earnings growth,” Morris said.

Investors will see a boost in their stock dividends, Avista said today. The board of directors increased the quarterly common stock dividend to 25 cents per share, up from 21 cents a share one year ago.


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