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Industry News

Avista Gets Okay for 25% Electric Rate Surcharge

LCG, Sept. 25, 2001--Avista Corp. said yesterday that the Washington (state) Utilities and Transportation Commission had approved its request for a 25 percent electric rate surcharge to pay for the high cost of power the company bought to serve its customers.

The surcharge will remain in effect from October 1 of this year through the end of next year.

In its order, the regulatory panel said "we will not let Avista fail financially as a result of the extraordinary hydropower and wholesale power market conditions it has faced during recent periods."

Avista chief executive Gary G. Ely said "Our company still faces significant financial and operating challenges, but this order tends to balance the difficult circumstances both Avista and our customers face. It is an important step toward overcoming those challenges."

Avista claims to have spent more than $190 million for power to serve its Washington customers during the fifteen months that will end this September 30, and recovery of that cost had heretofore not been allowed. The WUTC order will allow the company to recover $125 million, the utility said in a statement, and will also allow it to request recovery of the additional amounts in the future.

"With its order, the commission has recognized the gravity of our financial situation as well as the unprecedented energy market conditions and record low hydroelectric generation that prompted our surcharge request," said Jon E. Eliassen, a senior vice president and chief financial officer. "It appears that the order will provide us with the opportunity to begin to address our financial challenges while continuing to supply customers with reliable service."

Avista said the surcharge is subject to refund and will be partially offset by a 7.7 percent credit from an exchange agreement for residential and small farm customers arranged by the company with the Bonneville Power Administration. Residential bills for a Washington customer using an average 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would increase by $7.85 per month.

Avista is the former Washington Water Power Co.

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