The Public Counsel Section of the Washington State Attorney General's Office today filed an appeal challenging the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission's approval of Avista's last electric and gas rate general rate increases that took effect on Jan. 1.
"Public Counsel believes there are key legal errors in the commission's decision that warrant an appeal," said Simon Ffitch, chief of the Public Counsel Section, which represents residential and small business customers in utility rate cases.
The appeal filed in Thurston County Superior Court concerns the commission's Dec. 29 order approving a settlement between Avista, UTC staff and other parties. It coincidentally overlaps with a new rate increase requested last week by Avista that commissioners will consider separately.
The Dec. 29 order authorized rate increases to generate an additional $37.3 million in revenues ($32.5 million from electric and $4.8 million from gas). The additional revenues equate to a 9.1 percent boost in the company's revenues from electric rates and a 2.4 percent hike in gas revenues.
Public Counsel and the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities (ICNU), a non-profit trade association, recommended that the increase be no greater than $24.8 million for electric customers and $3.4 million for gas customers.
If the appeal is successful, the court could order refunds or remand the case to the commission to correct errors in its legal and factual analysis.