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Avista proposes Idaho rate hikes

Avista Utilities is proposing a staggered rate increase for its Idaho customers, which would raise a typical household’s electric bill by $12 per month over a two-year period and natural gas bill by nearly $6.

The Spokane-based utility submitted the request to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission on Monday. The commission has up to nine months to review Avista’s request, take public comments and make a decision.

The latest request for higher rates comes as the utility spends hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade its Spokane River dams and other aging equipment, said Scott Morris, Avista’s chairman and CEO.

“We are making investments to modernize our systems so we can meet our customers’ needs and continue to provide the safe, reliable energy our customers expect, now and well into the future,” he said in a prepared statement.

Avista is asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve a 6.9 percent increase for residential electric rates effective Jan. 1, 2016; and a 6.7 percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2017.

If the new rates are approved, a typical household using 929 kilowatts of electricity monthly would see its bill increase by $5.92 after Jan. 1, to $91.16 monthly. The request for higher rates includes an increase in the basic monthly charge, from $5.25 per month to $8.50 per month.

After Jan. 1, 2017, a typical household’s electric bill would increase another $6.10, to $97.26 monthly.

For natural gas, the utility is asking for a 6.5 percent increase for residential gas customers effective Jan. 1, 2016; and a 2.9 percent increase effective Jan. 1, 2017.

A typical household, using 61 therms of natural gas monthly, would see its monthly bill increase by $3.90 per month after Jan. 1, to $63.12, if the new rates are approved.

After Jan. 1, 2017, the proposed increase is $1.79, for a revised monthly bill of $64.91.

In its request to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, Avista also asked for changes in how the utility’s fixed costs are calculated in rates. The changes would smooth out weather-related spikes and drops in utility revenue, and customers would get corresponding rebates or surcharges on their bills.

For more information on the rate case, visit www.puc.idaho.gov.