Avista asking to hike Idaho electric rates

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Avista Utilities has filed a formal request for a rate increase for Idaho’s electrical customers.

The increase, which would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, would raise rates for residential customers by 3.5 percent. The increase would add $34.68 to the average customer’s annual electric bill.

Commercial and industrial customers would see increases of as much as to 1.6 percent.

The proposal would generate $5.3 million in additional revenue. Avista says the money will be spent on infrastructure maintenance, cybersecurity enhancements and power-pole upgrades.

“Avista’s rates are cost-based,” Avista President Dennis Vermillion said in a statement, “where the costs related to wood pole replacements and generator upgrades and other equipment that is included in customer rates reflects the cost of the equipment when it was installed, decades ago. The costs for this equipment are many times more expensive today, and this is a driver of our rate requests.”

“Each year, we’re inspecting and replacing roughly 12,000 poles across our system,” Avista Senior Communications Manager Casey Fielder added. “It’s important to everyone we provide safe and reliable service our customers have come to expect.”

Eric Anderson, a Priest Lake resident and Commissioner for the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, declined comment.

Terri Carlock, administrator of the Commission’s Utilities Division, said no commissioner would comment because Avista’s request is now officially open. She did not consider the 3.5 percent rate hike a dramatic increase.

A hearing has not yet been scheduled. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is seeking public comment. Those wishing to submit comments can visit the commission online at https://bit.ly/2ZpO7ql or by mail, P.O. Box 83720 Boise, ID 83720-0074.

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