Avista’s Washington customers will pay less for natural gas after state regulators on Thursday approved the utility’s request to lower rates beginning March 1.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the company’s request to reduce natural gas rates by 6 percent, or $3.90 for an average residential customer using 67 therms a month. A similar request is pending in Idaho.
Natural gas companies are required to adjust rates periodically to reflect changes in wholesale prices. About two-thirds of an Avista customer’s monthly bill is attributable to the cost of natural gas on which the company is not allowed to collect a profit.
An increase in supply and weak demand has led to falling prices. Avista purchases natural gas from suppliers in Wyoming, Alberta and British Columbia and distributes it to customers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
The three-member Utilities and Transportation Commission regulates the private, investor-owned natural gas utilities in Washington.
Police investigate senator who resigned
BOISE – The Idaho State Police are now investigating whether former state Sen. John McGee, who resigned from the Senate Wednesday amid sexual harassment charges, committed a crime.
“ISP is currently conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if any criminal laws have been violated,” ISP Director Col. Jerry Russell told The Spokesman-Review Thursday.
A day earlier, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said he’d asked Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to review the matter. Wasden personally reviewed the allegations against McGee and handed the case over to the Idaho State Police in a face-to-face meeting with Russell.
McGee, 39, resigned from the Senate Wednesday in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment involving a female Senate staffer; he was the Senate Majority Caucus chairman, the fourth-highest leadership position in the Senate. He hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing, but resigned after being confronted with the allegations.
Two killed in Valley accident identified
The man and woman killed in a traffic accident at East Broadway Avenue and North Locust Road in Spokane Valley on Valentine’s Day have been identified as Justin J. Stevens, 35, and Alisha K. Germany, 29.
The two were heading west on Broadway at high speed when their car left the road and hit a small tree and a telephone pole before hitting a large tree head-on. Neither was wearing a seat belt and alcohol was believed to be involved, according to a police news release. The two were declared dead at the scene.
Stevens was a level 3 registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for first-degree rape, failure to register as a sex offender, obstructing an officer, first-degree criminal trespass and possession of a controlled substance. He was required to register as a sex offender after being convicted of raping a 78-year-old woman at knifepoint in 1995.
Germany had convictions for fourth-degree domestic violence assault and failure to cooperate with police.
City permits Jefferson construction
The city of Spokane has approved the permit to allow the construction of Jefferson Elementary School at the corner of East 37th Avenue and South Manito Boulevard despite some neighbors’ protests, school officials announced Wednesday.
“While the same handful of neighbors … who brought a lawsuit against the district objected to the city granting the school district a permit to build a replacement school, once again their arguments were wholly rejected by an independent decision-maker,” said Kristy Mylroie, a district spokeswoman.
Construction will begin in June. Completion is expected in the fall of 2013.
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