October 2, 2010 in Business

In brief: Smart grid project begins next phase


Avista and other partners are embarking on the next phase of a smart grid demonstration project in Pullman, now that a final funding agreement is in place.

The project is part of the $178 million Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Funding partners are the U.S. Department of Energy, Battelle, Bonneville Power Administration, 11 utilities and five technology firms.

The $38 million Pullman project will automate parts of the electricity distribution system, including installing advanced metering. The work should be finished in 2015. Once the project is completed, customers in Pullman and the nearby town of Albion should experience shorter electrical outages and have more information about their energy-use patterns, according to utility officials.

Avista is partnering with the city of Pullman, Washington State University, Itron, Hewlett-Packard and Spirae on the project. Avista is contributing $14.9 million toward the cost.

Tom Sowa

John Pilcher named Spokane Club CEO

The Spokane Club has named John Pilcher its new chief executive officer.

After a national search, the club’s board of directors selected Pilcher to move the athletic-social club forward. Pilcher has been serving as interim CEO for the past several months.

“I’m thrilled to be asked to lead this historic enterprise on its path to success,” Pilcher said in a prepared release.

The club operates a downtown facility and a Spokane Valley fitness center and racquet club.

Board chair Jan Quintrall said Pilcher’s salary has been set below $130,000 per year, but includes a range of bonuses based on performance.

His contract will be reviewed in a year. Bonuses will be based on the club reaching several targets for capital funds, membership growth and the club’s financial health, Quintrall said.

A Harvard MBA, Pilcher was chief operating officer for the city of Spokane and then served as the city’s first economic development director.

Tom Sowa

Southwest to add Spokane-Phoenix leg

Southwest Airlines will add direct flights between Spokane and Phoenix starting in March.

At present the Dallas-based discount airline offers one-stop flights between the cities.

The new Phoenix flight will leave Spokane daily at 11:30 a.m., arriving after a 2-hour, 40-minute flight.

Southwest also announced it will add direct flights from Boise to Phoenix in the spring.

Tom Sowa

West Side bank closed by regulators

Washington – Regulators have shut down small banks in Florida and Washington state, lifting to 129 the number of U.S. bank failures this year as loan defaults have mounted and economic distress has lingered.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday took over Wakulla Bank, based in Crawfordville, Fla., with $424.1 million in assets and $386.3 million in deposits, and Shoreline Bank in Shoreline, Wash., with $104.2 million in assets and $100.2 million in deposits.

Centennial Bank, based in Conway, Ark., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of Wakulla Bank. GBC International Bank, based in Los Angeles, is assuming the assets and deposits of Shoreline Bank.

Associated Press

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