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Cool weather a boon to Avista’s bottom line


Cooler, wetter weather helped boost Avista Corp.’s first quarter earnings, company officials reported Friday.

The utility reported net income of $41.9 million, or 73 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2011, compared with $28.8 million, or 52 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2010.

Chairman and CEO Scott Morris attributed the higher earnings to wintry weather during the first quarter, compared with 2010, which was one of the warmest January-to-March periods on record for the utility’s service territory.

“Weather conditions in the first quarter of 2011 were slightly colder than average with precipitation, snowpack and streamflows well above average,” Morris said in a statement.

As a result, retail demand for energy was higher. Residential customers consumed about 11 percent more electricity and 20 percent more natural gas. Hydroelectric generation also went up, raising Avista’s operating revenues and lowering the utility’s power supply costs, Morris said.

General rate increases that went into effect last fall also helped the company’s bottom line, he said.

However, Avista is still not earning the rate of return authorized by state utility commissions, according to Morris, who said the utility continues to lag in the recovery of capital investments and increased operating costs. As a result, Avista plans to file a general rate case in Washington before the end of June and continues to ponder rate case plans for Idaho customers.

Stock symbolAVA
For periodFirst quarter
Profit $41.9 million
Per share 73 cents
VS. 1Q 2010
Profit$28.8 million
Per share52 cents
REVENUE$476.5 million