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Avista deal would raise electricity rates by 7.7% during next two years

Monthly Avista bills are poised to climb in Eastern Washington later this year.

The Spokane utility reached a settlement agreement that is now under consideration by state regulators. The deal would include two separate increases that would raise electricity rates by 7.7% during the next two years and natural gas rates by 1.1%.

The first increase would take effect in December.

The average residential electric customer using an average of 932 kilowatt hours per month would see an increase of $4.47 per month for a monthly bill of $89.99, effective Dec. 1, 2022; and then an increase of $2.24 for a monthly bill of $92.23, effective December 1, 2023.

A residential natural gas customer using an average of 67 therms per month could expect to see an increase of 20 cents for a monthly bill of $65.06, effective Dec. 1, 2022; and an increase of 52 cents for a monthly bill of $65.58, effective Dec. 1, 2023.

The actual percentage increases would vary depending on the customer and levels of energy use, according to Avista.

The multiparty settlement is related to Avista’s rate adjustment plan filed in January that initially proposed raising electric rates by 11% and natural gas rates by 4.3% over two years.

Avista said it filed the rate request to recover its costs for fixed expenses as well as ongoing infrastructure and technology investments to serve its customers.

To arrive at an agreement for the settlement, Avista consulted with UTC staff, the Public Counsel Unit of the Washington Attorney General’s Office, the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, the NW Energy Coalition, The Energy Project, Walmart, Sierra Club, and Small Business Utility Advocates, according to the company release.

All parties, aside from the Public Counsel Unit of the Washington Attorney General’s Office, agreed on settlement terms in Avista’s rate case.

The settlement agreement, if approved, would boost Avista’s annual electric revenues by $50.5 million and annual natural gas revenues by $9 million over two years.

To ease the affects on customers, Avista and parties involved in the settlement agreed to offset part of this year’s rate request with what’s called a “residual tax customer credit.” The credit is expected to incrementally return $27.6 million to electric customers and $12.5 million to natural gas customers through December 2024.

“We are pleased that the parties were able to reach a joint recommendation to the Commission in this case,” Dennis Vermillion, Avista president and CEO, said in a statement. “If approved, this outcome provides a positive framework for our Washington operations that benefits both our customers and shareholders.”

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