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Posts tagged: Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

No buyout? Avista insists its cost-cutting is a ‘voluntary severance program’

Sometime next month, workers at Avista Utilities have a choice to make. The company is looking to help incentivize workers to leave the utility, in order to cut something like $14 million from next year's operating budget.

Our first story on this offer is here.

But let's be a little more precise. The folks at Avista really really don't like us using the term “buyout.”

When we inquired how many employees have indicated an interest, we were told the word buyout is not accurate. It is instead a Voluntary Severance Program.

Further, with the deadline for volunteers being Dec. 14, Avista has no plans to reveal how many workers take the buyout. Even though it's a publicly traded company, the rules don't require this sort of matter to be revealed in SEC documents or filings.

Avista has a total of roughly 1,500 workers. The offer has not been presented to about 600 union workers, said Avista spokesman Dan Kolbet.

Some good news if you rely on gas heating from Avista

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on Thursday approved requests by the state’s four investor-owned natural gas companies, including Avista Utilities, to reduce heating rates for customers beginning Nov. 1. 

Natural gas companies in Washington are required to adjust rates periodically to reflect changes in wholesale prices. More than half to about two-thirds of a customer’s monthly bill is attributable to the cost of natural gas on which the company is not allowed to earn a profit.

The remaining 33 to 45 percent of the monthly bill covers the cost of delivering the natural gas. 

Avista’s typical Eastern Washington residential customer using 68 therms will see a drop of 4.3 percent, or $2.58 a month, for a revised bill of $58.18. 

The average residential customer of southwest Washington’s Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NWNG) using 55 therms will see a savings of about 7.7 percent, or $4.82 a month. 

All four utilities may see adjustments to the new rates. UTC staff will review wholesale costs and purchasing and hedging practices of the four firms to insure they are appropriate in current market conditions.   

The commission decision on Avista’s natural gas rate request is separate from the general rate case filed by the company in April. The UTC is expected to make a final decision in that proceeding next March. 

The utilities distribute natural gas to customers but do not produce their own fuel. About half of Washington’s natural gas supplies come from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and the other half from Rocky Mountain production sites such as Wyoming. 

Avista serves more than 149,000 natural gas customers, primarily in Eastern Washington.

Spokane-based residential moving firm AAA Movers fined by state

A Spokane company, AAA Movers, is among seven residential moving firms fined Thursday by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for operating without a permit.

AAA Movers, at 7807 N. Regal, was fined $5,000 for five violations. It filed for a valid permit and utilities commission agreed to dismiss $4,500 after one year if it meets all requirements and obligations.

The other firms cited are Last Minute Movers in Bremerton; Innovative Moving Systems, of Bremerton; Save-A-Lot Moving Company, of Everett; Professional Relocation Services, of Bremerton; BestGuys Moving & Labor, of Snohomish; and Empire Moving & Storage in Snohomish.

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