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Avista reports profitable quarter

Higher rates in Washington helped Avista Corp. recover from a down year and report a more profitable first quarter.

Net income for the quarter was $42.3 million, or 71 cents per share, the Spokane-based utility said Wednesday. And that primarily is a result of general rate increases in Washington, Avista said.

In contrast, the company made $78.2 million in the previous four quarters, including $38.4 million in the first quarter of 2012.

Utility earnings were better than expected in the first three months of this year thanks to lower operating costs, President and CEO Scott Morris said.

He also noted good results at unregulated subsidiary Ecova, formerly Advantage IQ, where many of last year’s financial setbacks originated.

Avista said it expects normal generation of hydropower this year, based on mountain snowpacks and recent rain. Also, power supply costs, including natural gas prices, are below the level included in base rates, the company said. That will benefit customers and shareholders, Avista said.

In 2012, warm weather, a sluggish economy and poor results at Ecova all contributed to Avista announcing a 22 percent decline in earnings.

“Ecova had a solid first quarter and is on track to meet expectations for the year with increased revenues,” Morris said.

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