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In brief: Avista’s rate plan criticized

Avista’s pending rate increase requests have been criticized as excessive by the Washington state Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section.

Residential electricity customers will see monthly bills rise 17 percent, or about $10 for a monthly bill of $69. Small businesses will pay an extra $13 – almost a 12 percent increase, according to the Public Counsel Section.

Gas bills for homeowners would climb 2.3 percent, raising the average monthly gas bill to about $91 a month.

A public hearing in front of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on Avista’s proposal to raise rates will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the City Hall Council Chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

People unable to attend the meeting who wish to submit comments may send correspondence to: WUTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504.

Avista serves 228,000 electric customers and 141,000 natural gas customers in Eastern Washington.

Its rate proposal would generate about $55.6 million in new revenue. The company has asked for an 11.3 percent return on shareholder profits, higher than the current 10.4 percent allowed.

Spokane groups make top 50

Two Spokane-area companies made Deloitte & Touche USA LLP’s list of the 50 fastest-growing Washington technology companies.

The financial and business services firm ranked Spokane Valley-based World Wide Packets Inc. at No. 25 with five-year revenue growth of 154 percent, according to a news release. Itron Inc. of Liberty Lake placed No. 31, with 126 percent growth.

Two firms invested in by Spokane venture capital firm Northwest Venture Associates placed in the top 10. NetMotion Wireless Inc of Seattle ranked No. 2, with 7,514 percent, and Bellevue-base SinglePoint ranked No. 10 with 717 percent. Northwest Venture Associates also has invested in World Wide Packets.

Winners were based on percentage revenue growth from 2002 through 2006.

“I feel somewhat delighted that two of the top 10 fastest growing companies in the state of Washington are companies that we’ve invested in,” said Tom Simpson, Northwest Venture Associates managing partner. Simpson has said the firm won’t seek to raise a new fund and will focus on overseeing its existing portfolio.


Unicep seeking 13 new workers

Unicep Packaging Inc. is advertising for 13 more workers to keep up with recent growth.

The Sandpoint firm makes packaging for dental, medical and cosmetic industries, specializing in single-dose applications. Reorganizing as a “lean manufacturing” organization is one of the company’s initiatives. Founded in 1991, Unicep employs 110 workers at a 65,000-square-foot facility.


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