SPOKANE, Wash. — Avista has asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission for a 2 percent increase in natural gas rates, which would generate $2.7 million in annual revenues. Avista officials said the request reflects the increasing cost of natural gas and will not increase company profits.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Avista has asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission for a 2 percent increase in natural gas rates, which would generate $2.7 million in annual revenues. Avista officials said the request reflects the increasing cost of natural gas and will not increase company profits.

If the request is approved, a residential customer using an average of 53 therms per month could expect to see a $1.41 increase, or 1.8 percent, for a total monthly bill of $81.47 effective Nov. 1.

About 75 percent of an average residential customer's monthly bill is the cost of natural gas and pipeline transportation, with the remaining 25 percent made up of Avista's fixed costs to provide natural gas service over its distribution system. The increase will vary between 1.8 percent and 7.3 percent for commercial and industrial customers.

Kevin Christie, director of natural gas supply for Avista, said an unusually long, cold spring depleted storage reserves across the country, natural gas imports from Canada to the U.S. are declining, and international demand has lured liquefied natural gas away from the U.S., putting pressure on natural gas prices.

Higher crude oil prices also have put upward pressure on natural gas prices, he said, and an active hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico has increased uncertainty in the natural gas commodity market.

Avista serves approximately 94,000 gas customers in Oregon. It has 352,000 electric and 311,000 natural gas customers in three Western states. For more information, visit www.avistacorp.com.