January 23, 2009 in Region

Avista wants more money

By The Spokesman-Review

Avista Utilities today asked Washington and Idaho regulators to approve electricity and natural gas increases that will boost average combined monthly payments $9 to $10 per month.

Utility officials said the additional revenues are needed to cover higher energy costs, and upgrades to its distribution systems required to provide additional reliability, and serve new customers.

The Washington Utility and Transportation Commission has 11 months to rule on the applications, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission seven months.

If approved in full, Washington customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month in electricity will pay $82.93, up $6.99, or 9.2 percent. Natural gas bills, based on 70 therms of consumption each month, will climb 2.5 percent, or $2.11, to $87.51.

In Idaho, where consumers use an average 982 kilowatt-hours per month of electricity, bills would increase 7.8 percent to $85.18, up $6.71. Gas rates would increase $2.56 per month to $81.94— a 3.2 percent bump — based on 66 therms of consumption.

Among the factors driving the increases are expenses related to the relicensing of Avista dams on the Spokane River, the expiration of old, low-cost power contracts, and the doubling of material prices, said Vice President Kelly Norwood.

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