September 4, 2008 in Idaho

Hearings scheduled on Avista rate request

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Avista’s Eastern Washington customers can comment on the utility’s proposed rate increase at two upcoming public hearings.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission will take comments at noon Sept. 18 in the Tesla Room at the SEL Event Center, 1825 Schweitzer Drive in Pullman. The second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. the same day in the Blue Room of the Spokane Masonic Center, 1108 W. Riverside Ave.

This spring, Avista filed a request with the commission to raise rates by an average of 9.2 percent for electric customers and 3.3 percent for natural-gas customers. If the rates are approved, an average residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month would pay an additional $6.53 for a total of $77.29.

Avista wants to raise natural-gas rates $2.84 a month for a typical residential customer using 70 therms a month, bringing the total monthly bill to $87.99.

The higher rates would produce an additional $43.2 million a year in revenue for Avista. New rates must be approved by the three-member public utilities commission and would take effect in 2009.

Avista said the rate increase is necessary to upgrade its aging infrastructure, such as replacing transmission lines and substations. The utility also said additional money is needed to renew licenses for five dams on the Spokane River and to expand a natural gas storage site. In addition, the company would increase funding for energy-assistance programs.

The commission has received 195 public comments, 191 opposing and four undecided about Avista’s rate-increase proposal. Those who are unable to attend the public hearing can submit comments to P.O. Box 47250 Olympia WA 98504.

Comments can be e-mailed to comments@utc.wa.gov. The deadline is Dec. 23.

Spokane-based Avista serves more than 230,000 electric customers and 143,700 natural gas customers in Eastern Washington.


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