Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. AVU-E-09-01 and AVU-G-09-01, Notice of Scheduling
April 17, 2009
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
Workshops, hearings in Avista rate case scheduled
Staff from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission will be in Sandpoint and Lewiston in May to provide an opportunity for customers of Avista Utilities to ask questions about Avista’s request for a rate increase. In June, the commissioners will be in Moscow and Coeur d’Alene to conduct a formal public hearing by taking testimony from customers.
The workshops are scheduled for May 12 at the Sandpoint Community Hall, 204 S. First Ave., and for May 13 at the Lewiston Community Center, 1324 Main St. The workshops, which begin at 7 p.m., are less formal than a public hearing. Staff from the commission will be present to explain the application and how a rate case is processed. The staff will also take questions from customers.
The public hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 16 at the 1912 Center at 412 E. Third St. in Moscow and on June 17 at the Todd Lecture Hall of Molstead Library on the campus of North Idaho College, 1000 W. Garden Ave in Coeur d’Alene.
At the public hearings, the commissioners who will decide the case will be present to take oral testimony from customers. The hearings are conducted only for the purpose of hearing from customers, so there is no presentation by the commission or the utility. For those who don’t want to testify at the two public hearings, the commission is also accepting written comments.
A technical hearing is scheduled for June 29 at 9:30 a.m. at the commission’s hearing room, 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, and may continue for up to three days. During the technical hearings, which are open to the public, the utility presents its case as do all the intervening parties, including commission staff. All the parties to the case will present evidence and can cross-examine witnesses during the technical hearings. Intervening parties include the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho, Clearwater Paper Corporation, the Idaho Community Action Network, the Idaho Conservation League and Idaho Forest Group LLC.
Commission staff and intervenors must file their direct testimony and exhibits by May 29 and rebuttal testimony is due June 19.
On Jan. 23, Avista filed an application with the commission to increase its general rates for electric customers by 12.8 percent and its gas rates by 3 percent. Avista is also asking for a 5 percent decrease in its annual Power Cost Adjustment, meaning the overall net electric increase, if approved, would be 7.8 percent.
Avista is seeking an increase of $31.2 million in its annual electric revenue and $2.7 million in annual gas revenue. The company claims that customer growth and aging generation plants, power lines, poles and substations, require the utility to invest about $200 million per year in upgrades.
Avista is seeking an average rate of return on rate base of 8.8 percent and an 11 percent return on equity.
With the filing, the commission’s staff of auditors, engineers and attorneys began a process that typically takes up to six months to review the application. State statutes require that regulated utilities be allowed to recover their prudently incurred costs of doing business plus a rate of return that it is not unreasonably high, but high enough to attract Wall Street investment in generation, distribution and transmission projects. When the commission denies cost recovery to a utility it must be able to legally demonstrate why the denied costs were not prudently incurred or needed to serve customers. Utilities, as well as other parties in the case, can appeal commission decisions to the state Supreme Court.
Written comments are accepted through July 1 and can be submitted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions." Fill in the case number (AVU-E-09-01 for the electric case and AVU-G-09-01 for the gas case) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
The public may also read the company’s application and testimony, as well as future testimony as it is filed, on the above Website. Click on the electric icon and then on “Open Electric Cases” or “Open Gas Cases” and scroll down to the above case numbers.