Avista Corp., renamed seven years ago, is looking for a new name again.
The 117-year-old Spokane company, which originated as Washington Water Power Co., will change its name as part of its transition to a holding company structure, says spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst.
The name Avista will only be used for the utility company, Avista Utilities, and even then the word Utilities will be dropped, Wuerst says. Avista Utilities is the part of Avista Corp. that provides electricity and natural gas to hundreds of thousands of customers in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
While the utility operation has a widespread and continual working relationship with its customers and the communities in which it does business, Our holding company will be entirely investor focused, she says.
The word Avista will be dropped from the name of Avista Corp. and its Avista Energy and Avista Advantage subsidiaries, and each of those three businesses will be given new names that will be completely different from each other to reflect that the businesses are separate and distinct, Wuerst says.
One of the goals of the renaming is to isolate Avista Utilities, a regulated utility, from the activities of the new holding company and its other, unregulated, subsidiaries, Wuerst says.
Were ring fencing the utility to protect it from the risks that the other companies have, she says, referring to the rings around the names of different business units that are often seen in a diagram of a corporate organization chart.
To have dropped the word Avista from the utilitys name would have resulted in huge cost, Wuerst says. Youre talking signage, the companys names on its trucks, and on many other items, such as stationery and forms, in a four-state area, Wuerst says. The decision was to take the Avista name forward and not incur those costs. Youre going to see a rollout of a refocused and customer-focused Avista Utilities that communicates more than it has in the past about its community contributions and economic-development and energy-conservation efforts, she says.
An Avista executive group is evaluating research on naming issues, and Avista has brought in a consultant, Monigle Associates, of Denver, to advise it on branding, new logos, and graphics, Wuerst says. Monigles Web site says its an expert on corporate graphics and branding, and Wuerst says theres been discussion big time at Avista Corp. on how to brand the companys renamed business units.
The idea of renaming Avista Corp. with the Washington Water Power Co. name was discussed at great length, but ultimately was rejected, Wuerst says.
Were going forward; were not looking back, she says.
The companys management team, including Chairman and CEO Gary Ely, will select the holding companys new name and the new names of its subsidiaries, Wuerst says. There very well may be some announcements in July and later on in the summer, she says.
Avistas shareholders approved the transition to a holding company structure at the companys recent annual meeting, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also has approved it. Still, before any of the renaming decisions go into effect, the four state utility commissions that deal with the companys affairsin Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montanamust approve the transition.
The information is before them, and theyre doing their due diligence, Wuerst says. Were hopeful that those decisions will come in the next couple of months or so.
Contact Richard Ripley at (509) 344-1261 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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