Avista seeks to eliminate convenience fee

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Avista Utilities is seeking authority to initiate a program that would allow it to eliminate the “convenience fee” residential customers are charged when they pay electric and gas bills online or by telephone.

The $3.50 per transaction fee is paid to a third-party vendor. Avista serves about 125,000 electric and 80,000 natural gas customers in North Idaho.

Avista maintains it can process the online and telephonic payments for as low as $1.50 per transaction, but would collect the amount in rates if it is later determined that the company and its shareholders were losing money as a result of the fee-free payment program. Avista estimates it will cost about $195,000 per year to process the payments for Idaho electric customers and $120,000 per year for natural gas customers.

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