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Docket Numbers: UE-220053, UG-220054, and UE-210854 (consolidated)
Editor’s note: You can find the final order and all other documents related to this case on our website.
State regulators approve Avista settlement
Customer rates to increase incrementally over next two years
Lacey, Wash. – Today, state regulators approved a settlement agreement for Avista Utilities, incrementally increasing customer rates over the next two years.
This is the first rate increase approved by the Utilities and Transportation Commission under legislation passed in 2021 requiring utilities to file multi-year rates plans when seeking rate increases.
The approved settlement covers a two-year period beginning Dec. 21. Avista’s electric revenue will increase $38 million on Dec. 21 and $12.5 million next year on Dec. 21, 2023; Avista’s natural gas revenue will increase $7.5 million on Dec. 21 and $1.5 million next year on Dec. 21, 2023.
However, the rate impact to customers during the two-year period will be partially offset by $40.1 million – $27.6 million for electric customers and $12.5 million for gas customers – from tax credits remaining from Avista’s last rate case. The credits are the result of changes to Avista’s tax methodology in 2018 and will be returned to customers over the two-year rate plan.
For year one of the rate plan, the average electric customer using 932 kilowatt-hours a month can expect a $4.47 increase per month for an average monthly bill of $89.99. The average natural gas customer using 67 therms can expect a $0.20 increase per month for an average monthly bill of $65.06.
For year two of the rate plan, the average electric customer using 932 kilowatt-hours a month can expect a $2.24 increase per month for an average monthly bill of $92.23. The average natural gas customer using 67 therms can expect a $0.52 increase per month for an average monthly bill of $65.58.
The new rates go into effect on Dec. 21.
Among other agreements, the approved settlement makes important steps toward removing barriers to customers’ access to energy assistance and increasing engagement with highly impacted communities and vulnerable populations. It requires Avista to work with its Energy Assistance Advisory Group to:
Create an easier, more accessible low-income assistance program-verification process.
Develop tiered rates based on income.
Manage overlap between low-income bill assistance and bill discount programs.
Identify new renewable energy projects that directly benefit low-income customers.
Increase low-income conservation and weatherization funding to $4 million in 2023 and $4.25 million in 2024.
In addition to 9 new performance measures required by the commission, the settlement also includes 92 performance metrics and a commitment to develop additional reliability metrics. Avista will track, maintain, and publish its performance throughout the rate plan on its website and report progress to the commission annually.
Avista will be allowed to recover certain costs related to its Colstrip generating plant. The company must track costs and file annually with the commission for recovery.
All parties except the Public Counsel Unit of the Washington Attorney General’s Office agreed to the settlement. Public Counsel contested some portions of the settlement. The Settling parties include Avista, UTC staff, the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, the NW Energy Coalition, The Energy Project, Sierra Club, Walmart, and Small Business Utility Advocates.
Spokane-based Avista serves more than 250,000 electric customers and nearly 170,000 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 equitable, safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.