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In brief: Avista to raise Idaho natural gas rates

Avista’s customers in Idaho will see natural gas rates go up 4.9 percent April 1.

The Spokane-based utility will raise its Idaho rates again on Oct. 1. Electric rates will increase 1.9 percent, and gas rates will rise another 0.3 percent.

The new rates approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission are less than what the utility originally proposed.

Avista had requested permission to raise gas rates 7.2 percent and electric rates 4.6 percent on April 1.

In an agreement with the PUC, Avista will not be able to raise its base rates in Idaho again until Jan. 1, 2015.

The bill of an average residential electric customer using 930 kilowatt-hours per month will increase by about $2 on Oct. 1.

The increase for a residential gas customer who uses the company’s average 60 therms per month will be about $2.82 per month April 1 and another 31 cents per month Oct. 1.

  The utility has 123,000 electricity and 75,000 natural gas customers in North Idaho.

Appeals court rules against Moe claim

The long string of legal defeats for Orville Moe, former owner of the Spokane Raceway Park, continued Wednesday with appellate judges ruling against arguments that the 76-year-old is a vulnerable adult being harassed by legal action.

Moe controlled the Airway Heights racetrack from 1971 until it was taken over by a receiver in 2005 following a lawsuit in 2003 by hundreds of investors who claimed that Moe enriched himself through off-the-books business dealings and questionable transactions. The receiver eventually sold the racetrack at auction in 2008 to Spokane County for $4.4 million.

A federal judge entered a $983,000 judgment against Moe in February 2010 that was separate from the state case where former partners are trying to recover their alleged losses. One of Moe’s friends sought to block depositions by seeking court protection for Moe “from duress, harassment and financial exploitation from (attorney) Aaron Goforth.” Superior Court Judge Annette Plese rejected it.

The Division III Court of Appeals agreed with Plese.

SNAP available into the summer

Even though the winter’s over, SNAP is offering energy assistance for those who need help into the summer.

Appointment slots for applications opened Monday, but there are hundreds of spots left, according to a news release from SNAP.

Applicants must reside in Spokane County, have a household income at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level and prove that they’re responsible for heating their homes. They must not have received energy assistance through SNAP since last October, the release said.

Appointments can be made online at snapwa.org or by calling (509) 242-2376 during daytime hours on weekdays.

Crews respond to suspicious fire

Spokane Fire Department crews responded to a fire that burned a large pile of lawn trimmings at Fairmount Memorial Park Wednesday afternoon. Officials called the fire suspicious.

The pile was about 10 feet tall and 100 feet long and fueled by dry vegetation despite recent rainy weather, Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said.

The fire, reported around 2:30 p.m., is under investigation as arson, Schaeffer said.



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