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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Avista offers grants for roof solar projects

Staff And Wire Reports

Avista Utilities wants to provide grants for rooftop solar applications on small commercial buildings in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The utility is proposing using a $200,000 surplus from its “Buck-a-Block” renewable energy tariff. The program allows Avista customers who want to buy energy from regional wind and solar sources to purchase it in blocks of 300 kilowatt hours at $1 per block.

State regulators must approve the proposal. In Idaho, the Public Utilities Commission will accept public comments through Nov. 21.

Avista officials estimate that they could fund six to eight small solar projects of 5 kilowatts or less, or two larger projects of 20 kilowatts or less. Preference would be given to school districts and other buildings where a solar installation would have the greatest impact for public education and energy generation.

Applicants would receive partial or full funding, not to exceed $70,000 per building.

Avista’s Idaho users get natural gas break

Natural gas rates for Avista Utilities’ Idaho customers will decrease by 2.1 percent effective today. 

An average residential customer or small business will see a monthly savings of about $1.16 on their bills.

Natural gas rates go up or down each year based on the previous year’s cost to serve customers. Avista’s wholesale costs for natural gas increased last year as a result of colder-than-normal temperatures. But customers used more natural gas than usual, resulting in higher utility revenues that offset the higher commodity costs.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved the rate decrease on Friday.

Woman recently in Africa has fever

PORTLAND – Oregon health officials say a woman who visited West Africa has been hospitalized in isolation after reporting a fever and is undergoing Ebola tests as a precaution.

Officials said Friday the woman had no known contact with anyone infected with the virus and is considered a low risk for contracting the disease.

Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis said the woman has been checking her temperature twice a day and developed a “persistent fever” Friday morning. Medics wearing protective gear evaluated her and determined she should visit a hospital.

Officials have released little information about the woman, other than to say she recently had been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and was staying in Portland. She was taken to a hospital in the Portland suburb of Milwaukie.

Teenager pleads not guilty in killing

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – A 17-year-old boy accused of sexually assaulting and killing a 6-year-old Bremerton, Washington, neighbor girl has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated rape charges.

Gabriel Gaeta entered his pleas Friday in Superior Court in Port Orchard. He has been charged as an adult.

Gaeta was arrested Aug. 9, nearly a week after Jenise Wright disappeared in her east Bremerton neighborhood. Her body was found in a muddy bog near her home. Both the girl and Gaeta lived in the same mobile home park and he was considered a family friend.

Judge Jennifer Forbes set trial for Dec. 22. If convicted, Gaeta could face life in prison.

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