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Lower Avista rate hike proposed in Idaho

Mon., June 15, 2009, 5:54 p.m.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission staff is recommending that Avista Utilities take a smaller rate increase than the Spokane company is requesting.

Avista is asking for an average net increase of 7.8 percent in electric rates and an average 3 percent increase in gas rates for its Idaho customers. Avista made the request in January.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission’s staff, which reviews the request, is recommending that Avista receive a 3.9 percent permanent increase in electric rates, and a 2 percent permanent increase in natural gas rates. However, customers would get a 12-month credit based on lower wholesale energy costs. With the credit, the staff recommendation would work out to a 0.6 percent increase for electricity and no increase for natural gas over the next year.

The three-member public utilities commission makes the final decision on rates. The commission operates independently of PUC staff and can adopt, change or reject either Avista’s proposal or the staff recommendation.

A public hearing on Avista Utilities’ proposed rate increase takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Todd Lecture Hall at Molstead Library on North Idaho College’s campus, 1000 W. Garden Ave.

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