Eye On Boise

Senate panel OKs help for struggling ratepayers

Here's a news item from AP: "Idaho's public utilities are a step closer to being allowed to set up programs to help poor, cash-strapped customers pay their power and gas bills with help from other ratepayers. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 Wednesday for the measure being pushed by Avista Inc., which serves customers in northern Idaho. Neil Colwell said such a program, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, would likely add surcharges totaling just pennies a month to customers' bills. That could prevent pricey service disconnections and other problems that regulated utilities later seek to recover during public hearings where they negotiate their rates. Colwell said such "uncollectibles" can wind up costing more later. The utility has a similar $3.5 million program in neighboring Washington and Oregon. The PUC supports the plan."




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