SPOKANE, Wash. – On Friday, staff members of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recommended denying Avista Utilities’ request to increase electric and natural gas and instead proposed a smaller increase.
Back in May, UTC officials said Avista filed a general rate case asking for a three-year rate plan. The company proposed an increase of $61.4 million in electric revenue and a $8.3 million increase in natural gas revenue, for the first year. Then the next year, the company requested another $14 million in electric and $4.2 million in natural gas revenue. In the third year, Avista request an increase of $14.4 million in electric and $4.4 million in natural gas revenue. If the rates are approved, Avista reported the average household will see their electric costs rise $2.58 per month in 2018. Customers would also expect to see a bill increase of $8.05 per month in 2018, Avista said in a release, as part of their higher base electric rates.
Commission staff determined Friday Avista should increase electric and natural gas revenues during a three-year period but by smaller margins. They said the company’s proposed plant investments and costs of capital were “excessive” and the company’s request to increase the power supply baseline “is not supported by evidence.”
Instead, commission staff recommended a first-year electric revenue increase of $10 million, a second-year increase of $11.5 million and a third-year increase of 11.7 million. For natural gas revenue, the commission recommended a $1.1 million increase the first-year, $2.7 million the second-year and $2.8 million increase the third year.
UTC staff also recommended that Avista be allowed to earn a 7.2 percent overall rate of return instead of the 7.69 percent the company requested.
The recommendation does not include specific rate details for Avista’s different customer classes. Commission staff will make a final decision on the request this winter. Officials said the new rates would go into effect in January 2018.
Avista officials said the filing of testimony by commission staff is part of the normal rate case process in Washington. They said they are in the process of reviewing the testimony and company leaders will have an opportunity to formally respond with testimony on December 1.
Avista customers will be able to comment to state regulators at two public meetings scheduled at 6:00 p.m. November 8 at the Northeast Community Center at 4001 N Cook St. in Spokane and 6:00 p.m. November 28, at Pioneer Center at 240 SE Dexter St. in Pullman.
Customers who cannot attend a public meeting but want to comment on the proposed rates can submit a comment online at www.utc.wa.gov/comments, by mail to P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA., 98504, email email@example.com or call toll-free 1-888-333-9882.
UTC staff said they have received 114 public comments on the company’s rate increase proposal and 113 were opposed and one was undecided.