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Avista CEO’s promotion boosts salary

Tue., March 24, 2009, 3:50 p.m.

Scott Morris, Avista Corp.’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, earned $2.2 million in total compensation last year, the utility reported Tuesday.

The salary reflects Morris’ promotion to chairman and chief executive officer of Avista Corp., roles that he assumed on Jan. 1, 2008, when the former chairman and CEO retired. Morris earned $1.1 million in 2007, when he was president and chief operating officer of Avista Utilities, the firm’s regulated utility.

“Our executives are paid mid-range of what their peers are paid,” said Jessie Wuerst, an Avista spokeswoman. “That’s what it takes to run a $2 billion company.”

Morris’ earnings were reported in Avista’s proxy statement to shareholders.

Morris’ total income included $626,308 in salary; $404,597 in cash incentives, which requires meeting a number of performance targets; and $620,897 in stock awards. An increase in the value of Morris’ pension – $559,753 – is also included in Morris’s total income, even though it’s not a cash payout, Wuerst said.

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