It is no shock that Avista is a leading utility serving the northwestern US. The firm's regulated utility unit has a generation capacity of 2,923 MW of electricity. Avista Utilities provides electric service to 685,000 electric and natural gas customers. The company operates eight hydroelectric projects and owns coal, natural gas, and wood waste plants. Avista has no natural gas reserves and purchases its supply from the wholesale market. The company also operates 79%-owned Ecova (formerly Advantage IQ) which manages energy expenses and provide energy consulting expertise for about 700 multisite companies across the US.
Avista's utility service territory covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.5 million.
Avista Utilities generates, transmits and distributes electricity and distributes natural gas. In 2012 the company supplied retail electric service to 362,000 customers and retail natural gas service to 323,000 customers across its service territory. The utility also engages in wholesale purchases and sales of electricity and natural gas.
Avista's Ecova subsidiary provides energy efficiency and cost management programs and services for multisite customers and utilities throughout North America. Its services include expense management services for utility and telecom needs as well as strategic energy management and efficiency services (including procurement, conservation, financial planning, facility optimization, and energy efficiency program management) for busniesses and utilities.
Beyond Ecova, Avista's non-regulated businesses are minor, and include commercial real estate investments, a venture capital funds firm, a sheet metal fabricator, and a fuel cell company.
Revenues dropped by 4% in 2012 reflecting a utility segment revenue drop of 6% due to lower electric natural gas sales volumes caused by warmer weather during the heating season and by lower demand from key industrial customers. This was offset by higher Ecova revenues (up by 9%) due to the acquisitions of Prenova (in 2011) and LPB Energy Management (in 2012).
Net income decreased by 22% in 2012 primarily due to lower revenues and increased Ecova operating expenses related to the amortization of intangibles recorded in connection with Ecova's acquisitions of Prenova and LPB Energy Management, and higher Other non-utility operating expenses (increased outside service expenses and consulting services and other corporate costs that could not be passed on to utility customers).
To boost Avista Utilites' green energy portfolio, in 2011 Avista signed a power purchase agreement with Palouse Wind, LLC allowing the company to acquire all the power produced by a 105 MW wind project being developed by Palouse Wind in Whitman County. The deal helps the company to meet the requirements of the Washington State Energy Independence Act beginning in 2016, and to meet the energy needs of its customers.
To allow Avista financial flexibility and a growth market beyond utilities, the company has expanded its non-regulated unit's portfolio in recent years.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2012 Ecova bought Dallas-based LPB Energy Management, a privately held energy management firm, for $50.6 million. LPB Energy Management managed utility expenses and secured low energy rates in deregulated markets. The deal boosted Ecova’s client base to almost 700 commercial companies with multiple sites.
In 2011 Ecova acquired Prenova, an Atlanta-based energy management company for $35.7 million. That year it also bought Building Knowledge Networks, a real-time building energy management services.
BlackRock, Inc. owns 13% of Avista.