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Idaho Avista users to see bill changes

Tue., July 10, 2007

Avista Utilities customers in North Idaho may pay extra or receive a credit on their monthly power bills starting this fall as the utility begins a new program designed to help it recoup unpredictable power supply expenses.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission last month approved a method to annually adjust Avista’s rates to cover extraordinary power expenses, such as those caused by changes in hydroelectric generation during a drought or increases in fuel costs not included in its base rates. During years that base rates exceed expenses, customers will receive money back. Otherwise, they’ll pay more.

The amount of the increase or credit should be clear later this summer.

The adjustments won’t affect company revenue and will be passed directly to wholesale power and fuel suppliers, according to a commission news release. Changes will take effect on Oct. 1 of each year and last 12 months.

Customers likely will see surcharges starting in October, because Avista had accrued about $11.1 million in deferred costs as of late April, said Gene Fadness, commission spokesman.

The commission also extended a 2.45 percent surcharge to Sept. 30, allowing Avista to reduce its debt before the new adjustment starts. That surcharge adds about $1.63 a month for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatts a month.


Bumped fliers may get more cash

Bumping a passenger from an overbooked flight could cost U.S. airlines more than $1,200 under new rules federal transportation officials are considering.

The Transportation Department on Monday sought public comment on several options for new maximum levels of compensation given to airline passengers forced to take a later flight due to airlines’ overbooking.

For passengers forced onto another flight that takes them to their destination less than two hours after their original arrival time, airlines currently must pay the value of a passenger’s ticket, plus up to $200.

If the airline does not meet the two-hour limit, passengers can be paid up to $400.

The government is seeking comment on whether to leave the existing limits, eliminate them entirely, double them, change the limits to $290 and $580, or $624 and $1,248.

The Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, declined to comment. But David Castelveter, a spokesman for the association, said the industry “more often than not” is able to find volunteers willing to be bumped.


Buffett gives stock to 5 foundations

The five foundations that billionaire Warren Buffett has pledged most of his $49 billion fortune to received their second annual gifts of Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. on Monday.

Buffett said in a news release that he had given 572,375 Berkshire shares to the foundations according the terms he announced last June. Based on Friday’s closing price of $3,704.90, this year’s gift to charity was worth $2.12 billion.

Most of the shares – 475,000 – went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the rest went to Buffett’s own foundation and those run by each of his three children.


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