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Avista earnings rise 26 percent on rate increases

Power company Avista Corp. said Feb. 18 that its fourth quarter earnings rose 26 percent, driven by higher rates for customers in Washington and Idaho of the company’s utility operations.

Utilities and other power providers have seen some of their biggest customers cut back electricity and natural gas usage in the recession, which has also made it difficult to raise rates and recover costs.

Avista was not only able to raise rates in some regions, but reported growth in its customer base.

“Even in these challenging economic times this past year, the number of retail customers grew with net additions of over 2,000 natural gas customers and 1,800 electric customers,” Chairman and CEO Scott L. Morris said in a statement.

Morris said in November, the company lowered natural gas rates for customers in all service areas, ranging from 22 percent to 26 percent, because of a decline in wholesale prices.

“In Washington and Idaho, this was the third reduction in natural gas rates in 2009,” he said.

The purchased gas adjustments are designed to pass through changes in natural gas costs to our customers with no change in gross margin or net income.

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