OLYMPIA, WA - The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is recommending that Avista Utilities refund millions to electric and natural gas customers in Washington, following a Court of Appeals order to review the company’s 2015 general rate case.
In written testimony filed on Friday, the Washington Attorney General’s Public Counsel Unit — which acts on behalf of customers of state-regulated utility companies — told the UTC that Avista should be required to refund customers for overcharges from Jan. 11, 2016 to April 30, 2018. The Attorney General's Office says during that time period, Washington residents and businesses were charged $41 million more than they should have been under state law. Avista’s residential customers were overcharged an estimated $15 million during that time period, averaging roughly $40 in overcharges per customer.
Additionally, the Attorrney General's Office says the rate the UTC approved was calculated incorrectly and did not reflect updated, lower power costs, adding about $21 million to Avista’s rates during the two-year period the rates were in effect.
Spokane-based Avista serves approximately 253,800 electric customers and 167,000 natural gas customers in Eastern Washington. All customers who paid the higher rates from early 2016 to early 2018 — about 420,800 customers — could be entitled to refunds. The UTC will issue a final decision on the refunds sometime after a hearing on the case on October 30.