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News Release
Commission Approves Rate Reduction for Avista Utilities
April 1, 2002 (2002 - 007)
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission agreed to rollback natural gas rates for customers of Avista Utilities by an average of 15.3 percent effective April 2, 2002. The decision will reduce annual revenues by $12.4 million dollars.
The company filed for the out-of-cycle Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment to reflect a decrease in the cost of natural gas since October 1, 2001.
A typical residential customer using 56 therms per month will see a reduction of $8.31 toward a lower monthly bill of $46.86. A typical commercial customer using 225 therms per month will see a reduction of $33.37 toward a lower monthly bill of $166.54.
"This is good news for customers of Avista. With this reduction, Avista residential customers will have the lowest natural gas rates in the state," said Commission Chairman Roy Hemmingway.
Since October 2001, natural gas wholesale market prices have avoided the extreme volatility the market experienced in the winter of 2000-2001. For example, spot market prices that reached $49.95 per MMbtu (million British thermal unit) in December 2000 have averaged $2.36 over the last six months.
Projections for natural gas prices through the next heating season vary widely. Variables include gas storage, the speed and rate of any economic recovery, the price of other hydrocarbon fuels, and the weather.
In a separate order, the Commission also approved a filing to establish a low-income rate assistance program for Avista residential customers who can least afford to pay natural gas bills. About $200,000 would be collected annually through a .5 percent rate increase for all residential customers. The monthly cost would be 25 cents at an average usage of 56 therms.
Avista estimates the program would provide low-income bill payment assistance benefits to between 500 to 1000 additional households.
Avista serves approximately 80,000 customers in Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath and Union counties.