Total compensation rose for Avista Corp.'s top executive officers in 2010 compared with the year earlier, according to the company's annual proxy statement filed on Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Scott Morris, Avista's chairman, president and chief executive officer, earned $3.24 million last year. That was a jump of more than $217,000 compared with 2009.
He made $2.68 million in 2008.
His salary held steady at $630,001, while his stock awards slipped slightly to $1 million from $1.3 million in 2009.
The SEC requires the company to report performance-based stock awards, but it wasn't take-home pay for the executives.
Total compensation includes the stock awards.
Avista reported that his salary was in line with market data. The company's board places salaries at the mid-point of the market, which is primarily made up of similar utilities in the region.
Jessie Wuerst, a spokeswoman for the investor-owned utility, said, "None of the incentives received by officers are included in the rates customers pay."
She said officers are paid from shareholder dollars.
"Less than one-half cent of each dollar customers pay in rates goes to the salaries of all the 13 officers of the company," Wuerst said. "What really drives rates is the direct cost of energy, (and) generating and purchasing sufficient energy to meet customers' needs."
Dennis Vermillion made nearly a million in total compensation, taking in $996,337. That was up from $733,929 in 2009.
Vermillion's salary was $298,078, up from $289,230 from the year earlier.
Mark Thies, senior vice president and chief financial officer, had total compensation of nearly $855,000 in 2010, compared with $831,000 in the year earlier.
Karen Feltes, senior vice president and corporate secretary, had total compensation of just more than $864,000. In 2009, it was $759,000.
Marian Durkin, the company's general counsel and chief compliance officer, had total compensation of more than $830,000, up from $791,000 in 2009.
Avista is a $2.7 billion company with 1,500 employees in the region, Wuerst said.
She said, "While the level of executive compensation is controversial and not all will agree on what is right to pay, one thing is certain - we need to have qualified, ethical and dedicated people running the company that provides energy 24/7 for our lives."