July 15, 2014 in Business, Idaho

Avista reaches deal on Idaho rates

By The Spokesman-Review
Widmann joins board

Health care professional Janet D. Widmann has been named to Avista Corp.’s board of directors, filling one of two vacancies.

Widmann, 47, is executive vice president of markets for Blue Shield of California. She has a master’s degree in health care administration and more than 15 years experience as a health care executive.

Widmann will stand for election to the board at the next annual meeting of shareholders on May 7, 2015. As a director, she will receive compensation consistent with the other Avista board members who aren’t company employees. This includes an annual retainer of $116,000, of which a minimum of $48,000 is paid in Avista’s common stock, and $1,500 for each board meeting or board committee meeting, according to a news release.

The two vacancies on Avista’s board of directors resulted from Mike Noel’s retirement in 2013 and Rick Holley’s resignation in February.

Becky Kramer

Avista Utilities has reached a settlement to keep its base rates for Idaho customers unchanged through the end of 2015.

The settlement, which still requires approval by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, was worked out after Avista announced in March that it would seek a rate hike for its electric and natural gas customers in Idaho. After informal talks, the Spokane-based utility proposed a one-year extension of the rate plan.

As part of the settlement, Avista agreed not to file a general rate case before May 31, 2015, for higher rates that would become effective on or after Jan. 1, 2016.

“Our customers will benefit from the stability in their energy rates this proposed settlement provides,” Dennis Vermillion, Avista’s senior vice president, said in a news release.

Idaho customers could still see a change in natural gas prices this fall through a power cost adjustment, which allows the utility to adjust its prices annually based on fluctuations in wholesale gas prices. As a result, customers’ gas rates sometimes go up or down depending on the market price for gas. But those fluctuations don’t affect Avista’s base rate for natural gas.

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