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Rates to Increase for Avista Natural Gas Customers
March 11, 2011
2011-02 UG 201
Salem, OR. The Oregon Public Utility Commission today announced its decision to raise rates for customers of Avista Utilities effective March 15, 2011 to cover the growing cost of delivering natural gas to its estimated 95,000 customers in LaGrande, Roseburg, Medford and Klamath Falls.
Avista had requested that the Commission approve a rate increase of 5.6 percent or $5.4 million a year. However, a stipulation approved by the Commission reduced the amount to a 3.1 percent overall increase or $2.97 million. The impact varies for residential, industrial and commercial customers.  For example, the average residential customer could see a 2.3 percent increase while rates for commercial and industrial customers will rise by up to 3.3 percent. 
The rate increase will take effect in two stages.  On March 15, 2011 rates will increase by $2.004 million, and on June 1, 2012, by $971,000.  When fully phased in the average residential customer using 46 therms per month could see their gas bill rise by $1.31 from $58.14 to $59.45 or 2.3 percent. The new rate is staggered to ensure customer benefits match costs in rates.
The adopted stipulation sets Avista’s rate of return at 8 percent and 10.10 percent for return on equity.
Customer groups that signed the stipulation include Commission Staff, Avista, the Citizens’ Utility Board, and Northwest Industrial Gas Users.
Avista’s last general rate increase occurred in 2009 when rates rose by 7 percent.
Avista offers a number of programs to help customers manage how much gas they use and manage costs:
  • Energy efficiency programs for residential, commercial and industrial customers,
  • Support for energy assistance programs like Project Share,
  • Comfort level billing,
  • Payment arrangements and;
  • Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Services (CARES) that provides assistance to special-needs customers through referrals to area agencies and churches for help.

    Link to decision: