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Avista inks agreement with Ore. consumer groups on gas rate increase

Avista Corp. reached a settlement agreement with all the parties involved in its natural gas general rate request that would raise natural gas billed revenues by $3.6 million, according to an Aug. 14 news release.

If approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, the new rates would be effective Jan. 15, 2020. Avista filed the rate request on March 15.

The settlement aims to boost natural gas billed revenues by 4.2%. It also includes a 7.24% rate of return on rate base, with a common equity ratio of 50% and a 9.4% return on equity. Originally, Avista sought an increase of about $6.7 million, or 7.8%.

Upon approval, a residential customer using an average of 47 therms per month would see a 4.5% increase, or $2.19, for a revised monthly bill of $51.13.

"This supports Avista's ongoing efforts to make capital investments in infrastructure and systems, including replacing natural gas pipe, expanding the natural gas system and technology upgrades that allow us to provide our customers with the safe and reliable energy service they expect," Avista President and director Dennis Vermillion said.

The parties involved in the settlement include the commission staff, Oregon Citizens' Utility Board, and the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers.

Avista focuses on the production, transmission and distribution of energy and serves up to 104,000 natural gas customers in Oregon.