December 24, 2014—A recent settlement agreement approved in a Washington rate case allowed Avista to increase its electric revenues by 2.5 percent and its natural gas revenues by 5.6 percent. The combined increases will generate about $21 million. The decision also increased funding for the utility's Low-Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) by a combined $828,000, which brings total funding for the program to $6.7 million.
LIRAP is available to Avista customers with household incomes at or below 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The program distributes funding in grant form to local agencies within its service territory. These agencies then verify household eligibility and disburse LIRAP funds. LIRAP provides assistance to around 12,000 households per year. The settlement also requires the involved parties to discuss modifications and additions to LIRAP and submit proposals to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) by June 2015.
WUTC's approval of the rate increase came in the face of much public opposition. According to press reports, the Commission received 179 public comments. Of those, only one was in favor of the rate increase, 158 opposed the increase, and 20 were undecided.
Sources: Avista, media reports, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission