Avista natural gas customers to see 10% higher rates starting Nov. 1

<p><p>State regulators announced Friday they have approved a previous request by Avista Corp. to increase natural gas rates by about 10% starting Monday.</p></p><p><p><a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/sep/02/avista-corp-seeks-to-raise-natural-gas-prices-by-1″ target=”_blank”>Avista submitted a request</a> Aug. 31 to the Washington Utilities and Transportation commission to increase natural-gas rates by 9.98%. For a customer using an average of 66 therms per month, it will increase the bill from $58.23 to $64.04 a month.</p></p><p><p>“Higher customer gas costs in part reflect increases in natural gas market prices,” the commission said in a news release. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, production of natural gas has slowed while demand has increased, resulting in increased wholesale costs for Washington utilities.”</p></p><p><p>Avista is seeking to recoup the higher cost of natural gas for purchase agreements it had entered into through October 2022.</p></p><p><p>The lack of supply and increased demand for natural gas has put upward pressure on prices through the beginning of 2022 – both nationally and regionally, Avista spokeswoman Celena Mock said in an email last month.</p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Other factors in the West contributing to the higher prices include a below-average water year and reduction of available hydropower capacity in California, leading to a rise in demand for natural-gas-fired generation in the area.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Along with with higher California demand, maintenance on an interstate pipeline has slowed capacity for bringing natural gas from Canada to the Pacific Northwest, Mock said.</span></p></p><p><p>The pending rate increase follows a 2.6% increase in natural gas rates for Avista that the three-member UTC board approved this summer and went into effect Aug. 1.</p></p><p><p>“The Commission encourages gas customers with concerns about the ability to pay their bills this winter to reach out to their gas company about bill management and assistance programs,” the release said.<span class=”print_trim”><em>Thomas Clouse can be reached at (509) 459-5495 or at tomc@spokesman.com.</em></span></p></p>