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Avista CEO Scott Morris earns $4.5 million in 2016

UPDATED: Fri., March 3, 2017

Avista CEO Scott Morris and his wife, Liz, have pledged $3 million to local charitable efforts. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Avista CEO Scott Morris and his wife, Liz, have pledged $3 million to local charitable efforts. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Avista Corp. paid its top executive about $4.5 million in total compensation last year.

Scott Morris, the Spokane-based utility’s chairman, president and CEO, earned more than the $3.6 million he received in 2015, but less than the $5.5 million he earned in 2014.

Morris’ earnings were outlined in Avista’s preliminary proxy statement, filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Executive compensation is a combination of salary, performance-based incentives, pension and the ability to earn future stock awards.

Morris’ salary was $797,000 in 2016. His compensation package also included $1.87 million in potential future stock awards; $1 million in incentive pay; a $724,000 increase in the value of his pension plan and a $12,000 company match to his 401(k) plan.

Avista’s shareholders, not ratepayers, pay for most of the earnings of Morris and other top Avista officials. A typical household pays about 25 cents per month on its utility bill toward salaries and cash incentives for Avista’s five top executives, Avista officials have said.

Executive pay is scrutinized by public utilities commissions in Washington and Idaho, which decide whether Avista can raise its electric and natural gas rates.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has said that in the era of high executive pay, most of the costs must be borne by shareholders, not ratepayers.

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