Rising rates connected to Avista and Enron?

Question: I wonder if you might explain why no public connection is being made between sharply rising rates for heating, and to stories, a couple of years back, about a former Avista executive having been dismissed over about $100 million in bad Avista investments?

Also, doesn't Enron corruption have considerable bearing on the abovementioned heating rates? -- Philip J. Mulligan, Spokane

Answer: I'm sorry for the delay in answering your question. I wanted to speak with our Business columnist Bert Caldwell, who formerly covered Avista in great detail.

Assuming you have gas heat, the high heating costs are due to a doubling of natural gas costs at the wholesale level, which the utilities commission allows Avista to pass through to its customers. We are now competing against the Midwest for Canadian gas, which means we have to pay more. The company does not make any additional profits from the increases.

If you have electric heat, the shenanigans in Texas did indirectly contribute to the higher rates we pay now, but Avista has also built new generating plants to make sure it does not run out of electricity again in the future. -- Carla Savalli, city editor

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