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Avista asks to boost surcharge

Tue., July 29, 2008

Electric bills would go up for North Idaho customers

Panhandle Avista customers would pay more on their monthly electricity bills – about $3.43 for the average household – starting later this year under a surcharge increase the utility requested Monday.

Avista asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for permission to more than double its power surcharge, which would raise overall rates about 5.9 percent and generate $12.2 million to recoup costs of generating power for the year ending June 30.

Natural gas customers in Idaho and Washington also can expect Avista to request increases of about 20 to 25 percent in coming weeks in a separate surcharge, although fluctuating costs of gas could alter that number, said spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst.

Those surcharges also are independent of Avista’s request this spring to increase its general Idaho electricity rate by 15.9 percent and its gas rate by 6.5 percent.

The annual power surcharge request aims to recover the difference between the company’s cost of generating and buying power and the cost currently included in rates, according to Avista.

“The increased power costs reflect the higher cost of natural gas that we use to generate electricity, as well as a late spring run-off this year, which decreased the amount of energy from low-cost hydro power that we use to serve our customers,” Avista Vice President of Rates and Regulation Kelly Norwood said in a company news release.

The increase would begin Oct. 1.

Avista uses a different mechanism to recover costs from its Washington customers.

Avista’s 120,000 Idaho customers pay a surcharge of 0.27 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, an extra charge that is set to expire in September, Wuerst said. The request would raise the surcharge to 0.61 cents per kilowatt-hour, increasing residential rates by about 5.4 percent, she said. That means customers using an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month might expect their bills to increase from $63.44 to $66.87.


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