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Avista executive compensation lower

Wed., March 5, 2014

Pay for Avista Corp.’s top five executives dropped last year as a result of lower stock awards and changing pension values.

Scott Morris, chairman and chief executive officer of the Spokane-based utility, received about $2.9 million in total compensation in 2013, down nearly $600,000 from a year earlier.

Morris’ base salary grew 7 percent to $723,461, based on market comparisons and performance, according to the company’s preliminary proxy statement filed Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He also received a cash award of $819,894 because Avista met goals related to things such as customer service, earnings per share and targeted times for restoring power after outages. He received $53,255 in 401(k) matches and cashed-in vacation time, the preliminary proxy said.

Morris’ stock awards of $1.3 million reflected a drop of more than $100,000 from the previous year as a result of Avista’s failure to meet certain benchmarks for corporate performance. And the value of his pension plan, as based on actuarial tables, also went down last year.

Morris, 56, has led Avista since January 2008. Avista has more than 600,000 electric and natural gas customers in Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Oregon.

Avista customers pay about 23 cents per month on their bills for top executives’ salaries and cash awards, said Jessie Wuerst, a company spokeswoman.

Stockholders also contribute to executive pay, she said. Stock awards are paid from Avista’s shareholder equity, which is the sum of its stock value and retained earnings.

Other executives’ total compensation also reflected lower stock awards and changes in pension plan values. Compensation totals for 2013 include:

• Mark Thies, senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer: $1.1 million.

• Dennis Vermillion, senior vice president and environmental compliance officer: $988,943.

• Marian Durkin, senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer: $965,541.

• Karen Feltes, senior vice president and corporate secretary: $866,656.

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