November 2, 2006 in Business

Energy trades boost Avista profits

From Staff Reports The Spokesman-Review

Itron reports strong third quarter

» Spokane-based metering technology company Itron Inc. announced the company’s third-quarter income rose 53 percent to $9.2 million, or 35 cents a share, from $6 million, or 23 cents a share, a year earlier.

» Total sales increased 17 percent to $164.7 million from $141.1 million a year earlier.

» The quarterly and year-to-date sales totals were company records, according to an Itron press release.

Avista Corp. reported a $10.1 million profit for the third quarter, a turnaround from a $9 million loss during the same period a year ago.

Avista Chairman and CEO Gary Ely said the company’s regulated utility and other businesses are performing well. Most of the quarterly profit, in fact — $8.8 million — is attributable to Avista’s energy-trading arm, which is independent of the regulated utility.

Avista made more money on trading natural gas and electricity than expected.

The third quarter is normally the slowest in terms of revenues and profits for the Spokane-based company.

Revenues from the quarter totaled $293 million, compared with $265.7 million in 2005.

A change in state regulations, higher customer rates and a good water year at Avista Utilities’ dams has helped the company, which provides electricity and natural gas to customers mostly located in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The company will be charging its Eastern Washington natural gas customers 1.3 percent more for heating their homes this winter. The small increase is far less that the 8 percent initially forecast. Natural gas prices have fallen and the company has procured lower-cost supplies.

In Idaho rates will drop by 3.4 percent.

The company’s growing Advantage IQ business earned $1.9 million during the quarter, up from $1.3 million a year ago. Formerly called Avista Advantage, that unit helps companies track and manage the cost of their energy, telecom and garbage services.

For the first nine months of the year, Avista Corp. earned $55.1 million on revenues of $1.08 billion, according to a company press release. For the year to date, Avista Utilities has been the company’s major profit generator, contributing $43.5 million of the nine-month earnings. In the same period last year, Avista Corp. earned $19.8 million profit on revenues of $901.2 million.

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