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Avista reports strong first quarter

Avista Corp. reported net income of $41.9 million, or 73 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2011, compared to $28.8 million, or 52 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2010.

Chairman and CEO Scott Morris attributed the earnings increase to colder, wetter weather during the first quarter, compared to 2010, which was one of the warmest January to March periods on record for the utility’s service territory.

“Weather conditions in the first quarter of 2011 were slightly colder than average with precipitation, snowpack and streamflows well above average. This resulted in a significant increase in retail loads and hydroelectric generation as compared to the prior year, which increased operating revenues and reduced our power supply costs,” he said in a statement.

Retail energy demand was slightly higher than the utility expected, he said. General rate increases that went into effect since October also helped the company’s bottom line, Morris said.

However, Avista is still not earning the rate of return authorized by state utility commissions, he said. Morris said the utility is continuing to lag in the recovery of capital investments and increased operating costs. As a result, Avista plans to file a general rate case in Washington during the second quarter and continues to evaluate rate case plans for Idaho.

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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