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A report released this month by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates a good possibility that electricity rates in the region will go up when the industry is deregulated. In fact, Don Reading, an economist serving as a consultant to a legislative committee studying regulation, on Friday called the report "the first serious study that shows a significant increase in the price of electricity in the Pacific Northwest" under deregulation.
Small businesses and homeowners in Idaho may suffer higher power bills under proposed deregulation of the electric industry, according to a recent study in Louisiana. Small businesses' rates may rise twice as much as they would without deregulation over seven years, said the study conducted for a New Orleans utility by Texas Perspectives Inc. of Austin.
The Washington Water Power Co. has agreed to freeze base rates until the year 2001 in proposed agreements with Idaho and Washington regulators who are reviewing a proposed merger with Sierra Pacific Resources. The agreement would allow adjustments under certain circumstances, such as lower natural gas prices or a loss of cheap hydropower because of reduced streamflows. The company also would be allowed to rebalance the costs imposed on a specific class of customers such as industry. The freeze and other conditions are outlined in so-called stipulations negotiated by representatives of the two companies and staff members of the Idaho and Washington utilities commissions.
US West Communications has asked Washington regulators to approve plans that would eliminate long-distance tolls between Elk and Green Bluff. A separate filing by US West and PTI Communications also would allow Colville and Kettle Falls residents to place unlimited toll-free calls to each other. To replace the long-distance charges, Elk and Green Bluff residents would pay a 65-cent monthly fee. Businesses would pay an additional 90 cents.
FOR THE RECORD: (February 4, 1995): A Washington Utilities and Transportation action against International Pacific Inc. was undertaken before its acquisition last year by LDDS Communications Inc. An article in the Jan. 27 Spokesman-Review implied otherwise.
Let the dialer beware: Seemingly innocent phone numbers with the "800" prefix have cost some unwary consumers hundreds of dollars. The National Better Business Bureau in Washington, D.C., has been flooded with confused callers who accrued huge telephone bills after participating in group conversations and merchandise purchasing programs via 800 lines, which traditionally have been free.