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December 29, 2006
Public Counsel’s Work Helps Defeat Rate Hike for Avista Customers

OLYMPIA – The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) this week dismissed a request by Avista Utilities to increase revenues by $28.9 million by raising electric rates for its Eastern Washington customers. The Public Counsel Section of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office objected to the request, which would have raised rates for residential customers by 9.7 percent. Rates for business customers also would have increased.

Public Counsel and Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities filed a motion to dismiss the request, arguing that Avista’s petition failed to comply with UTC policies and procedures for general rate hikes, and ignored conditions contained in a recent settlement agreement. Commissioners agreed with the argument.

“Any general rate increase requested by a utility company must contain comprehensive financial information about the company for the most recent 12-month period for which that information was available,” Public Counsel Attorney Judy Krebs said. “Avista sought to rely on financial data that was two years old and incomplete.”

Avista’s petition also violated a recent settlement agreement adopted by the UTC. That agreement requires the company to address several important matters when it requests a general rate case. A general rate increase involves, among other things, a request to increase the amount customers pay for utilities by at least 3 percent.

The Public Counsel Section advocates for the interests of consumers on major rate cases, mergers and other rulemakings before the UTC. Public Counsel also advocates for consumers in court appeals, through technical study groups and before the Legislature and other policy makers. The office maintains contact with the public through a citizen advisory committee, community organizations, public hearings and personal contact with consumers in major cases. More information about Public Counsel’s work is available online.

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Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432
Judy Krebs, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 464-6595

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