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Business in brief: One-year dam license granted to Avista

Avista Utilities has received a one-year operating license for its Spokane River dams, as the company continues its comprehensive relicensing effort.

The annual license is expected to bridge the time between expiration of the current license and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s granting of a new license.

FERC issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement this summer, a document the agency will use to determine how Avista must run its dams, including such things as how much water must wash over the falls of the Spokane River in downtown Spokane, and what changes must be made to accommodate the various Lake Coeur d’Alene interests, including the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

Free directory service added in Spokane

Spokane-area consumers have another free directory-assistance number to call when looking for information about local businesses: (800) CallDex.

Launched Wednesday by the company behind Dex printed directories, Cary, N.C.-based R.H. Donnelley, the automated voice-recognition service will provide addresses, phone numbers and other tidbits, according to the company. The initial rollout covers Spokane, Denver, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. – all primary markets for the Dex brand, said R.H. Donnelley spokesman Peter Larmey.

The service uses technology by Calgary, Alberta-based Call Genie, asking users for the type of business they would like to find. Callers can ask to search by landmarks, such as parks and tourist attractions; intersections; or neighborhoods.

Using the number will always be free for consumers, Larmey said, but the company will assess whether to charge advertisers. It is intended in part to build brand recognition, Larmey said.

Other free services challenging the traditional 411 call, which can cost a fee, include Google’s (800) GOOG-411, Microsoft subsidiary Tellme Networks’ (800) 555-TELL and Jingle Networks Inc.’s (800) FREE411.

Avista seeks reduction in gas rates for Oregon

Avista is seeking to reduce natural gas rates for its Oregon customers by an average of 22 cents per month, reflecting the falling prices of the popular home heating fuel.

The company filed paperwork with the Oregon Public Utility Commission seeking the 0.3 percent rate reduction, according to a Wednesday news release.

Called purchased gas cost adjustments, the rate change request is intended to better predict how much money Avista anticipates spending on natural gas.

The company has not yet filed similar rate adjustments for its Washington and Idaho natural gas customers.