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Avista seeking higher electric and gas rates in Idaho

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 19, 2015, 2:20 p.m.

Avista’s Idaho customers could begin paying more for electricity and natural gas on Jan. 1 under a recent settlement in the utility’s pending rate case.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is expected to act on the settlement in December. If approved, a typical household would see its monthly electric bill increase by 0.9 percent, or 75 cents, for a total of $85.74.

A typical natural gas bill would increase by 5.4 percent, or $3.19 per month, for a total of $62.41. The new natural gas rates would include a $1 hike in the basic charge, which would increase from $4.25 to $5.25 per month.

The settlement covers the base rates for electricity and natural gas, which reflect the utility’s fixed costs for providing power. In a separate action, Avista is seeking to incorporate lower wholesale gas prices into its bill structure. The net effect of both actions would be a $54.47 monthly gas bill for a typical household.

Avista agreed to lower base-rate hikes and smaller shareholder profits in the settlement, which was negotiated with the utility’s large industrial customers, advocates for low-income residents, the Idaho Conservation League and staff of the Public Utilities Commission.

If approved, the new rates would increase Avista’s electric base revenues by $1.7 million per year and natural gas base revenues by $2.5 million. The settlement would allow for a 9.5 percent return on Avista’s common stock.

Back in June, Avista had asked for a higher revenues and a 9.9 percent return on the utility’s common stock. The lower revenue reflects a delay in the recovery of some of the utility’s capital costs, Avista officials said.