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 more than 1,940 MW of electricity. Avista Utilities provides electric service to 700,000 electric and natural gas customers. The company operates six 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 operated 79%-owned Ecova (which manages energy expenses and provides energy consulting expertise for about 700 multisite companies across the US) but sold this unit in 2014.
Avista Utilities generates, transmits, and distributes electricity; it also distributes natural gas. In 2014 the company supplied retail electric service to 370,000 customers and retail natural gas service to 330,000 customers across its service territory. The utility also engages in wholesale purchases and sales of electricity and natural gas.
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.
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.
Sales and Marketing
In addition to its retail utility customers, the company sells to third parties ans retailers as well as in wholesale markets.
In 2014 Avista's revenues decreased by 9% due to the absence of revenues from Ecova (which it sold), partially offset by an increase in sales from other segments.
Net income increased by 73% in 2014, primarily due to the disposition of Ecova, which resulted in the recognition of a $69.7 million net gain. In addition, the company recognized a $15 million pre-tax gain on settlement of California power markets litigation involving Avista Energy, partially offset by pre-tax contribution of $6.4 million from proceeds to the Avista Foundation.
In 2014 Avista's net cash provided by operating activities increased by 10% in 2014. The net cash used during 2014 primarily reflects cash outflows from changes in accounts payable, natural gas stored, and income taxes receivable. These were partially offset by cash inflows from changes in other current liabilities (accrued taxes and interest) and accounts receivable.
The company continues to explore strategic opportunities for corporate growth. To allow Avista financial flexibility and a growth market beyond utilities, the company has expanded its non-regulated unit's portfolio in recent years. In this regard, it launched Salix LNG in 2014 to explore markets that could be served with liquefied natural gas (LNG), primarily in the West and Pacific Northwest.
It also made an investment in Plum Energy, to extend the benefits of natural gas beyond the traditional pipeline markets in energy generation, transportation, and small-scale LNG value chains.
It is also exploring additional strategic opportunities to bring natural gas to southeast Alaska.
To raise cash, in 2014 Avista Capital sold its interest in Ecova to Cofely USA, an indirect subsidiary of GDF SUEZ, for $335 million.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2014, the company acquired AERC, whose primary subsidiary is Alaska Electric Light and Power Company (AEL&P). AEL&P has a firm retail peak load of 68 MW, owns four hydroelectric generating facilities, and has a power purchase commitment for the output of the Snettisham hydroelectric project.
Avista was founded in 1889 as the Washington Water Power Company.