Docket Number: UE-200900, UG-200901, UE-200894
Two-year plan starts Oct. 1
LACEY, Wash. - The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission today approved a request from Avista Corporation to revise rates that will result in no changes to customer bills, effective Oct. 1.
Avista originally requested revenue increases of $44.2 million for electric and $12.8 million for natural gas, but state regulators approved $13.6 million and $8.1 million, respectively. However, the commission’s decision will not result in an increase in customer bills due to changes Avista made in its tax accounting to reduce the impact on customers.
The average electric customer using 914 kilowatt-hours a month will continue to see an average monthly bill of $82.33. The average natural gas customer using 67 therms a month will continue to receive an average monthly bill of $56.53.
The commission’s order allows Avista to invest in making their system more resilient in increasingly frequent large wildfire events. The commission will evaluate Avista’s wildfire-related spending once a year.
The commission also approved a special contract between Avista and its largest customer, Inland Empire Paper. This special contract keeps Inland Empire Paper as an Avista customer to avoid an increase in customer rates that their loss as a customer would create. It also provides the utility with more than 10 megawatts of demand response, giving it flexibility in serving customers during extreme heat and other energy emergencies.
The order allows Avista to set up an electric vehicle program aimed to benefit low-income, vulnerable, and highly impacted communities. The company is also increasing funding by at least 7% for its existing low-income bill assistance program for residential customers. Avista is creating a peak rate pilot using its smart meter technology that will notify customers when overall energy use is high and provide the option to pay a lower rate if customers can wait to use electricity.
The commission denied recovery costs of certain investments in the Colstrip coal-fired plant in Montana, and removed consideration of the recovery of costs related to the overhaul of Colstrip Unit 3 and development of a dry ash disposal project.
The commission received 16 public comments about the proposed rate increases, 15 were opposed and one favored commission staff’s proposed rate decrease.
Avista last filed a rate case in 2019.
Spokane-based Avista serves more than 250,000 electric customers and nearly 164,000 natural gas customers in Eastern Washington.
The UTC is the state agency that regulates private, investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in Washington. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.