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Idaho asked to reconsider Avista ruling

Sat., Oct. 30, 2004, midnight

Avista Corp. formally requested Friday that Idaho regulators reconsider a decision not to allow the company to charge ratepayers for $7.4 million worth of expenses.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission issued an order Oct. 8 approving Avista’s new rates for its 109,000 electric customers and 62,000 natural gas customers in that state.

In the order, the commission decided not to allow Avista to charge customers for $14.7 million worth of expenses it felt ratepayers should not have to cover. That amount included cost overruns in the construction of a gas-fired power plant in Spokane Valley and some gas contracts the commission felt were “highly irregular” and “speculative.”

The disallowance of $14.7 million resulted in Avista recording a $9.8 million loss in its third quarter, reducing earnings by 20 cents per share.

Avista had requested that its electric rates be increased by 21 percent. The commission approved an increase of 16.9 percent, but coupled with a decrease in an existing surcharge, rates will only rise by an average of 1.9 percent.

Also, Avista had requested that natural gas rates be increased by 7.8 percent and the commission approved a 6.4 percent increase. However, combined with Avista’s direct pass-through of higher wholesale prices for the commodity, rates will rise by almost 21 percent.

In its motion for reconsideration, Avista is presenting new information regarding $7.4 million worth of the expenses, trying to show that they were prudently incurred and that the company should be allowed to charge that amount to ratepayers.

“These are areas of the case where we believe we have an argument,” said Avista spokesperson Catherine Markson.

The commission will determine within 28 days whether it will reconsider its decision and, if so, how it will proceed, Avista said in a news release.

In making its decision, the commission noted the high level of public comment. More than 100 people attended three public hearings and more than 1,500 people signed a petition protesting the rate increases.


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