Energy Efficiency, Generation, Natural Gas

Idaho OKs new rates for Avista customers

Avista Utilities won approval from the Idaho Public Utilities on the company’s electric and natural gas 2017 general rate cases.

The approved rates are designed to increase annual billed electric revenues by $12.9 million, or 5.6 percent, and by $4.5 million, or 2.3 percent, the company said.

For natural gas, the approved rates are designed to increase annual billed revenues by $1.2 million, or 1.9 percent, and by $1.1 million, or 1.8 percent, on Jan. 1, 2019, the company said.

The approved revenue increases are based on a 9.5 percent return on equity with a common equity ratio of 50 percent, Avista said.

The company noted that a residential electric customer using an average of 910 kWh per month could expect to see:

·      A billed increase of $5.22 per month, or 5.9 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $93.34, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The total revised average monthly bill amount includes the effects of an increase in the basic charge of 25 cents, from $5.75 to $6 per month

·      A billed increase of $2.16 per month, or 2.3 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $95.50, effective Jan. 1, 2019. There would be no change to the basic charge for 2019 rates

As noted in the Dec. 28, 2017, commission order, Avista last June filed its application, proposing a two-year rate plan that would increase annual electric revenues by $18.6 million – 7.9 percent on a billed basis – on Jan. 1, 2018, and $9.9 million – 4.2 percent –on Jan. 1, 2019. The application also sought approval for the company to increase annual natural gas revenues by $3.5 million – 5.7 percent – on Jan. 1, 2018, and $2.1 million – 3.3 percent – on Jan. 1, 2019.

The commission added that it granted intervention to Clearwater Paper, Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Forest Group, the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho, and Sierra Club.

The parties held settlement discussions, and staff on Oct. 20, 2017, filed a proposed stipulation and settlement, as well as a motion to approve it. The settlement was signed and supported by all parties except Sierra Club and ICL, the commission added.

The signing parties agreed that the company would not file an electric or natural gas general rate case to increase base rates before May 31, 2019, and any such rates would not go into effect before Jan. 1, 2020.

The commission also said that the settlement includes several other provisions, including provisions about further studying cost of service issues and convening a working group to consider funding increases for the Low-Income Weatherization and Energy Conservation Education Programs.

The commission said: “Based on our review of the record, we find that the settlement is fair, just and reasonable and we approve it. … The settlement resulted from hard bargaining and eventual agreement by a diverse group of Avista’s customers and stakeholders. It includes provisions that will benefit customers – including the stay-out provision, consideration of funding increases for low-income weatherization and conservation education, and consideration of service rules.”