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Avista seeks base rate increase for investments in natural gas infrastructure

Avista Corp. filed an application with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon for a natural gas base rate increase to recover investments in its natural gas infrastructure.

The Washington-based energy company's proposal would result in an increase in overall natural gas billed revenue of about $6.7 million, or 7.8%. If approved, Avista's residential customers using an average of 47 therms per month would see an 8% increase, or about $3.91, on their monthly bill. The revised average monthly bill, amounting to around $52.85, includes Avista's proposed increase in the monthly basic charge to $12, from $10.

The increase is also based on a proposed rate of return of 7.55%, with a common equity ratio of 50% and a 9.9% return on equity, according to a March 15 news release.

"This general rate request is driven by investments in our natural gas infrastructure that serves our customers in Oregon," said Avista President Dennis Vermillion. "We continuously invest in the natural gas system, and this request includes projects that support the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas to our customers as well as the replacement of old equipment, compliance with government regulations and requirements, technology upgrades and more."

Avista said that the majority of its investments included in the filing comprise natural gas pipeline replacements, including an ongoing project to replace gas distribution pipes installed before 1987; a planned natural gas system expansion; and technology upgrades.

Avista provides gas service to about 103,000 customers in Oregon. In total, Avista serves 355,000 gas customers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.