Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 31° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Us West Seeks Higher Phone Rates Proposed 29 Percent Hike Would Generate $70.3 Million

Associated Press B Staff writer

State regulators plan public hearings in October on US West’s request for a 29 percent increase in monthly phone bills for more than 1.5 million Washington homes this fall.

The state’s largest telephone company on Friday asked for a $70.3 million rate increase that would be the utility’s first in a dozen years.

For the homeowner, the base rate of $10.50 a month would rise by $3 as soon as the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission gives a go-ahead.

Business customers’ monthly charge would rise by $2, an increase of 8 percent over the $25 per line authorized by the commission last year. The company proposes holding off on the higher business rate until the state Supreme Court rules this fall or winter on a US West appeal to an earlier rate case.

A ruling in favor of the company could mean rate increases beyond those sought Friday.

US West spokeswoman Dana Smith said unresolved issues like treatment of the company’s directory business represent almost $300 million in additional revenues.

The three-member utilities commission already has approved a large chunk - $36 million - of the increase filed Friday, as a way of supporting some of the utility’s costs of modernizing and expanding phone service.

The commission’s staff is recommending the full amount after negotiating with the company. But the commission has made no decision on the total amount and neither the staff nor commission has approved a plan for how and when the rates will be raised, said Glenn Blackmon, director of telecommunications.

The panel will schedule five or six public hearings across the state in October before making its ruling, he said.

The commission could conceivably require the company to keep rates at the current level for all customers until the court makes its decision, Blackmon said.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Associated Press Staff writer Bert Caldwell contributed to this story.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.



Annual health and dental insurance enrollment period open now

 (Courtesy Washington Healthplanfinder)
Sponsored

2020 has been a stressful year for myriad reasons.