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Avista bills in Idaho may drop

Sat., Aug. 27, 2011, midnight

Settlement would raise rates but initiate credits

Avista Corp. has reached a proposed settlement over the company’s request for higher electric and natural gas rates for Idaho customers.

If approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, the settlement would result in a 1.1 percent increase in base electric rates and a 1.6 percent increase in natural gas rates effective Oct. 1.

However, the bottom line for customers is a net decrease in power costs, based on several credits that would take effect at the same time, said Jessie Wuerst, an Avista spokeswoman.

Customers will get a credit on their power bills reflecting lower wholesale rates for energy, Wuerst said. A recent settlement with Bonneville Power Administration also boosts a credit to residential and small farm electric customers, aimed at spreading the benefits from the federal hydropower system across the Northwest.

“While there’s a slight increase in the base rate … when you factor everything together, there’s a net decrease,” Wuerst said.

If the settlement is approved, a typical residential customer would see a 2.1 percent reduction in his or her electric bill. Bills would drop $1.78 per month to $82.02 based on 956 kilowatt-hours of electricity used.

A typical natural gas customer would save 27 cents each month, for a monthly bill of $60.49 based on 62 therms of natural gas.

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