Members of the Lincoln Electric Cooperative Inc. Friday approved a proposed merger with Inland Power & Light Co.
General Manager Ralph Byre said 88 percent of the 649 votes cast were in favor of consolidating the utilities, which serve contiguous areas in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
Inland members will vote on the merger next Saturday.
Lenders to the two utilities must also approve the transaction, Byre said. If they do, the merger could be completed by the end of the year.
Byre said residential and commercial customers of Davenport-based Lincoln would be switched to Inland’s lower rates following the merger. As a result, he said, homeowners would save about $280 a year, businesses $300.
Irrigation users, Lincoln’s biggest customers, will remain on current rates until the Bonneville Power Administration sets its new rates, he said. Bonneville provides all power to both utilities.
Byre said no one would lose their jobs as a result of the merger.
Lincoln Electric has 1,400 members in Lincoln County. Inland has 25,000 members from the Pend Oreille County line to Asotin County.