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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2007
Avista rate increases focus of Oct. 2 public hearing in Spokane

SPOKANE – Avista customers in Eastern Washington will be able to tell state regulators on Tuesday Oct. 2 what they think about the company’s proposal to increase electric and natural-gas rates. The Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section, which represents the public in utility rate cases, encourages customers to attend and express their views. Public Counsel will also attend the hearing.

The hearing starts at 5 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers of the Office of the Spokane City Council, West 808 Spokane Falls Boulevard, in Spokane. Customers will address members of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which will make the final decision on whether to approve Avista’s request by early 2008.

Spokane-based Avista serves 228,000 electric customers and 141,000 natural gas customers mostly living in Eastern Washington. Avista filed a request with the commission April 26 to increase rates by 15.8 percent overall for electric customers and 2.3 percent for natural-gas customers. The requested changes would produce about $55.6 million in new revenue for the company, which has also asked for an 11.3 percent return on shareholder profits, up from the current 10.4 percent level.

“We’re concerned with the data we have seen so far from Avista and believe the requested increases are excessive,” said Public Counsel Chief Simon ffitch. He said the Public Counsel Section plans to file formal testimony with the UTC on Oct. 17, with detailed recommendations to the commission.

ELECTRIC
If the proposed rates are approved, residential customers will see their monthly electric bills increase by 17 percent. A customer who uses 1000 kilowatt-hours a month could expect to pay an additional $10 for a total of $69. Small businesses will pay an additional $13 – a nearly 12 percent increase.

GAS
Avista is seeking to raise natural-gas rates. Residential and small business customers will see their monthly gas bills increase by 2.3 percent. A typical residential customer using about 70 therms a month could expect to pay almost $2 more for a total of $91.

The company is also asking to bump its basic monthly service charges for residential customers from $5.50 to $6. Customers who have both electric and gas would then pay an additional $1.

HOW TO COMMENT IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND
Members of the public who are unable to attend the public hearing can write to WUTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA, 98504 or e-mail comments@utc.wa.gov. Include your name and mailing address, the name of the company (Avista), and docket no. UE-070804 (electric) and/or UG-070805 (natural gas).

For more information, customers may contact either the WUTC or Public Counsel:

  • WUTC – (800) 562-6150, e-mail at comments@wutc.wa.gov. Information is available online at www.wutc.wa.gov. Enter UE-070804 (electric) and/or UG-070805 (natural gas) in the docket lookup field.
  • Attorney General’s Office Public Counsel Section -- Public Counsel, Attorney General’s Office, 800 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104-3188, or e-mail utility@atg.wa.gov

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 at http://www.atg.wa.gov/utility/index.shtml.

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Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager - Seattle, (206) 464-6432
Simon ffitch, Public Counsel Section Chief, (206) 389-2055

Editor’s Note: The spelling of Simon ffitch is correct – the surname begins with two lowercase f’s.


 

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