August 27, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments on four Avista Utilities applications that, combined, would decrease natural gas customer rates by 8 percent and electric rates by about 2 percent.
If Avista’s two gas rate decreases are adopted, residential gas customers using the company average 60 therms per month would see about a $4.42 per month decrease. If the two electric decreases are adopted, a residential customer using the company average of 939 kilowatt-hours per month would see a monthly decrease of about $1.09. Avista proposes all adjustments become effective Oct. 1.
Customer rates are divided into several components. Variable rates are adjusted usually annually to account for changing conditions such as wholesale electric and gas prices, transportation costs and hydroelectric conditions.
Another component of rates is the base rate, which covers fixed costs such as personnel and equipment. Customers should be aware that Avista has filed a Notice of Intent with the commission to file a combined electric and natural gas base rate case on or after Oct. 10 for proposed new rates that, if adopted, would be effective in April 2013.
Avista, headquartered in Spokane, serves about 125,000 electric customers and about 75,000 natural gas customers in northern Idaho.
Following is a summary of Avista’s four applications to decrease the variable portions of gas and electric rates:
Gas Efficiency Rider (Case No. AVU-G-12-03 and AVU-G-12-06) – Lower natural gas prices due to changing gas supply now make it cost ineffective for Avista customers to invest in natural gas energy efficiency programs. Consequently, Avista proposes to temporarily suspend its gas efficiency programs while still meeting its contractual obligations for agreements executed before Sept. 1, 2012. Customers who qualify for rebates associated with the programs will have until Nov. 1 to send all required rebate forms to the company. As a result of the company’s proposal to temporarily suspend gas efficiency programs, the company is also filing an application (Case No. AVU-G-12-06) to zero-out the rider that funds those programs. Residential and small-commercial customers now pay about 2.7 cents per therm for gas efficiency programs. The programs saved about 734,056 therms over a one-year period, about 54 percent of the company’s goal. The commission is taking comment on this proposal through Sept. 10.
Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (Case No. AVU-G-12-05) – Costs associated with providing gas supply change year to year as the wholesale price of natural gas and transportation-related expenses vary. Natural gas utilities in Idaho file a Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) at least once each year as gas supply expenses increase or decrease. Overall, prices today are lower than they were in 2011. Consequently, the company seeks a reduction of about $3.6 million in the annual revenue it collects in its PGA account, which will reduce residential gas customer rates by about 5 percent. The commission is taking comments on this application through Sept. 17.
Electric Efficiency Rider (Case No. AVU-E-12-07) – Revenue from the electric rider now collected from customers at the current level will exceed the amount needed to fund energy efficiency programs during the next year, according to Avista. Therefore, the utility proposes to reduce the amount collected in the rider by $3.46 million, reducing billed electric rates by 1.3 percent. In its Washington and Idaho territories, Avista realized about 59,000 megawatt-hours of savings from energy efficiency programs, 115 percent of the company’s goal. In its Idaho territory alone, the savings were 19,908 MWh during 2011. The commission is taking comments on this application through Sept. 17.
Power Cost Adjustment (Case No. AVU-E-12-06) – The PCA surcharge or credit covers the utility’s power supply costs that vary from normal power supply costs year to year. The PCA accounts for costs that variable costs resulting from hydro conditions, natural gas prices and gas transportation. Avista is proposing a customer credit of about .09 cents per kWh. The commission is taking comments on this application through Sept. 21.
Those wanting to submit comments in any of these cases can do so via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on “Comments & Questions About a Case.” Fill in the case number provided above for whichever case you would like to comment and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712