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Business in brief: PUD allocates power to tribe

Cash and power allocations worth $2 million to $8 million a year to the Yakama Nation have been approved by the Grant County Public Utility District as part of a licensing agreement for two hydroelectric dams.

The allocations approved Monday would be used to expand Yakama Power, the tribe’s public utility, as well as for fish and wildlife program.

In exchange, the Yakamas would forgo any damage complaints concerning the Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams on the Columbia River and would work with the PUD on power development on or near the reservation.

Tribal leaders are expected to approve the deal Monday at Legends Casino in Toppenish.

The agreement should ease the strained working relations between the tribe and the central Washington utility, PUD general manager Timothy J. Culbertson said.

“It’s pretty significant,” Culbertson said. “I would say that there are a lot of people that would like to have an agreement like this.”

Under the agreement, the tribe would receive the equivalent of 20 megawatts, enough for about 15,000 homes, during the first two years and then 15 megawatts over the next two years and 10 megawatts annually for the remainder of the 50-year license.

San Francisco

EBay to auction radio ad spots

EBay Inc. will begin taking bids for radio advertisements starting Wednesday as the online auction leader tries to expand into offline ads.

EBay will partner with privately held Bid4Spots Inc., an Encino-based startup hosting weekly online auctions of radio airtime since January 2005. The agreement means advertisers can bid on eBay for commercial time on more than 2,300 Internet and terrestrial radio stations.

The auctions – mostly for last-minute ad spots – will take place on eBay Media Marketplace, which also brokers cable-television ads. eBay gets a commission for every dollar spent on ad buys.


FTC to challenge Whole Foods deal

The Federal Trade Commission will file a lawsuit to try to prevent natural foods grocer Whole Foods Market Inc. from acquiring competing Wild Oats Markets Inc., the companies said Tuesday.

The lawsuit, expected to be filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, will argue the marketplace is defined by natural and organic food stores and not the broader supermarket industry, said John Mackey, chairman and chief executive officer of Whole Foods.

The FTC confirmed late Tuesday that it will seek to block the deal in court. If the transaction is allowed to proceed, Whole Foods is likely to raise prices and reduce quality and services, the FTC said.

The planned purchase comes as the natural food retailers face increasing competition from traditional supermarkets and even big box retailers that are stepping up natural and organic food offerings.

The FTC, in previous reviews of industry acquisitions, has included organic and natural grocers in the supermarket marketplace, Mackey said.


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