SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) – Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on Thursday that his Public Counsel Unit challenged electric and gas rate increases by a Spokane-based utility company.
Avista requested that temporary rates that went into effect on Jan. 1 be made permanent. The increase raised natural gas rates by $1.4 million and electric rates by $14 million. The company requested that rates be further increased to generate an additional $12.1 million in revenue from its natural gas customers and an additional $18.2 million from its electric customers.
When the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a two-step increase in 2012, it conditioned that the Jan. 1 rates would be temporary.
Ferguson’s Public Counsel filed expert testimony on Tuesday that analyzed multiple elements of Avista’s current proposal. The counsel recommended the UTC reject Avista’s attrition adjustment, reject Avista’s request to dramatically increase the customer charge for service and reduce Avista’s cost of equity to reflect the declining cost of capital.
If the UTC accepts the counsel’s adjustments, Avista’s natural gas rates would be increased by $4.7 million and its electric rates would be reduced by approximately $26 million.
Avista can file rebuttal testimony to address recommendations by Ferguson’s Public Counsel and other parties. Hearings will be held in the fall with a UTC decision expected by December.