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In brief: Avista rate hike scaled back

Avista Utilities electricity and natural gas rates will increase Jan. 1 in Washington, but not as much as the Spokane company had wanted.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved a deal announced last month that will roll the proposed increases back by 40 percent.

Monthly bills for those using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity will increase $6.39, to $70.76. Customers who use 70 therms of gas per month will pay another $1, bringing their bills to $84.49.

The increases will generate an additional $33.4 million in annual revenues for Avista, which in April had filed for a total $55.6 million in new revenues.

The lower amount was negotiated by commission staff, industrial customers, the assistant attorney general representing consumers, and the company.

Avista will also increase by $236,000 its present $2.2 million contribution to energy programs for low-income customers, and boost conservation efforts for that group to $1.1 million, from $900,000.

The company sought the additional revenue to cover higher fuel costs and investment in its electricity generating and transmission equipment.

Bert Caldwell

Fuel cell maker tops million watts

Spokane-based fuel cell company ReliOn Inc. has shipped more than 1 million watts of fuel cells since 2004, representing installations at more than 400 commercial sites, it announced Tuesday.

The company’s hydrogen fuel cell products offer “highly reliable, low-maintenance backup power” to sites needing between 600 watts and 12 kilowatts of power, according to a news release. An order by the Federal Communication Commission that telecommunications companies have backup power systems to run equipment at remote locations, such as cell towers, for at least eight hours has spurred business, said spokeswoman Sandra Saathoff.

ReliOn expects to exceed 1.3 million watts delivered by year’s end, she said.

Saathoff wouldn’t disclose annual revenues for the privately held company, which employs about 75.

Parker Howell

Liberty Lake

Itron announces Azerbaijan deal

Liberty Lake-based Itron Inc. said Wednesday that subsidiary Actaris has entered into contracts in Azerbaijan for prepayment metering technology to help electricity and gas providers improve revenue collection.

Actaris signed an agreement with Azeri Gas and Electricity Metering to deliver 100,000 integrated Smart Card prepayment electricity meters and the TaleXus Vendor revenue collection system. The meters will be installed in two areas of Azerbaijan.

Actaris, through its partner Gulf Axxess, also is deploying a prepayment solution for 65,000 gas meters in the city of Ganga. The gas prepayment solution has been in pilot with Azeri Gas since 2006.

Prepayment solutions have become a focus for Azerbaijan, which is on the Caspian Sea between Russia and Iran, because utilities can significantly improve revenue collection and increase investment in power generation and distribution infrastructure, Itron said in a press release.

From staff reports