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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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System upgrades behind rate-hike requests, Avista says

Avista is seeking to raise the price of electricity and natural gas through a series of rate filings. For the average Avista ratepayer in Eastern Washington, the request amounts to adding $10.62 to a homeowner's monthly electric bill and another $4 a month for natural gas.

Thwart energy vampires in your home

Even though vampires are all the craze in Hollywood right now, you might not have to look to the big screen to see them; they could be lurking in your home, and not on the pages of “Twilight” either.

Avista to lead Pullman power grid project

Avista Corp. will lead a $38 million “smart-grid” demonstration project in Pullman that will upgrade the electric distribution system to the city of 27,600 people.

Editorial: Smart grid offers leap forward on power usage

Once, when an appliance store ran low on waffle irons, the manager would order several more to avoid running out. Sooner or later, however, consumer preferences would change and the store would be stuck with a dozen unwanted waffle irons. Then retail wizards discovered just-in-time inventory control.

‘Smart grid’ to get test

PORTLAND – Researchers across the Northwest have demonstrated that new technology can help manage electricity use. Now they’re betting they’ll get the same results with new experiments and show the whole country how it’s done. Twelve utilities in five states – including Avista Utilities and Inland Power and Light Co. in Spokane – have signed on to a proposal to test the so-called smart power grid under the direction of Battelle, the company that operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland. Battelle has applied for federal stimulus money.

Talks slash Avista hike requests

A partial settlement announced Friday will cut by almost half a proposed Avista Utilities electricity rate increase in Washington, and slice a natural gas increase by almost 40 percent. The agreement is not binding on the Utilities and Transportation Commission, which will hold a public hearing on the increases Sept. 30 in Spokane. But all other parties in the case, including the commission’s staff and the attorney general’s public counsel, have accepted the changes.

Northwest power panel calls for conservation

A panel that sets policy for the Bonneville Power Administration says the Pacific Northwest can rely on conservation to meet most of the new demand for electricity over the next two decades.

Broken transmission tower causes outage

A broken electrical transmission tower was blamed for a loss of power this morning to 6,600 Avista Utilities customers in north central Spokane.

Our View: Electricity grid needs smart-technology upgrades

Though it gets scant attention, one part of the infrastructure is perhaps the most important. Those plugged into the future know its power and potential, which they discussed at a conference this week in Spokane. The electrical grid isn’t given much thought until a transmission line goes down or a brownout or blackout hits your neighborhood. Then power is restored, and we go back to our computers, televisions and appliances. But people behind the scenes know the grid could do so much more if we were willing to invest in it.

Avista rate cut was cold comfort

The last few months have been a roller-coaster ride for most Avista customers, but watching our heating bills reach new heights has been anything but fun. Although Avista teased us by lowering the cost of natural gas recently, only a handful of us splurged with that extra $3 per month before being smacked by news that despite recent rate hikes, Avista made another request for even higher rates next year.

Spray-on Power

Cheap and inexhaustible electricity production remains one of the Holy Grails of the green movement, with solar running neck and neck with wind in its ability to inspire innovation. Here's an example: Conventional solar cells are made of silicon, a brittle substance that requires a solid backing. But recently, Xiaomei Jiang from the University of South Florida has announced the development of the tiniest solar cells ever produced -- cells made from an organic polymer that is able to be dissolved and painted onto any surface that is exposed to the sun.

Florida tinkerers fashioning own electric cars

Cornelius Cronin bought a $900 Chevy S-10 pickup and spent several weeks removing things he didn't like -- mainly its dirty, gas-guzzling engine. He fitted an electric motor and batteries under the hood, and now purrs around Oldsmar, Fla. in a red truck that uses no gas and emits no air pollution.

Cover from the Costs of Cold

Feel that icy chill run down your neck? If it's not the first sting of Old Man Winter rounding the bend, then it's the fear that grips you upon realizing how expensive it will be to heat your home when he arrives. But there are ways to stave off high utility bills and keep your abode at a comfortable temperature this cold season.

Grand Coulee Dam tour

Earlier this week, Canadian and American officals toured Grand Coulee Dam, an engineering marvel of the Great Depression that cut off salmon runs to the upper Columbia basin, including a large chunk of habitat in Canada. It was a fitting place for the Northwest Power Planning Council and the Columbia Basin Trust to pledge greater cooperation. Both groups work on dam mitigation in their respective countries.

Girl, 11, Electrocuted By Light Pole

An 11-year-old girl wet from swimming was electrocuted when she stepped near an electrified light pole at a playground construction area. Crystin Hess was waiting with a friend for a ride home Sunday when she stepped near some rolled-up metal fencing and the pole, which had current running through it.

Downed Line Kills Driver, Three Rescuers

An injured driver and three rescuers trying to help him after a crash were electrocuted by a downed power line. One of the rescuers backed into the 7,200-volt line Thursday night while they were trying to move the driver, sheriff's Deputy Tim Bailey said. The ground was wet.

Big Power Surge Damages Appliances In Six Valley Homes

A power surge late Friday blew out lights, sent sparks flying and caused several thousand dollars worth of damage inside six south Spokane Valley homes. Damage at the houses in the 10900 block of east 18th and 19th ranged from exploded light bulbs to broken furnaces. A street light also exploded during the 11:45 p.m. surge. No one was injured.

Fireworks Show Rocket Hits Power Line, Electrocuting 35 Sobbing Survivors Flee Bridge,Crushing Others Beneath Them

As festival-goers packed a bridge for a riverside fireworks show, a stray rocket sent a high-tension line crashing into the crowd, unleashing 10,000 volts that electrocuted 35 people and sent many of their bodies bursting into flames. The dead at the Wednesday night festival in southern Peru included a policeman electrocuted trying to pull a victim away from the electric current. In the chaos, sobbing survivors collapsed on the cobblestone plaza or ran in panic, crushing others beneath them.

Helper At Car Crash Electrocuted

A good Samaritan trying to move a broken telephone wire from a car wreck was electrocuted Saturday, police said. Frederick Misuraca, 30, was moving the wire off the road after he had helped remove two teenagers from a car that had struck a utility pole and overturned. But he accidentally touched a live wire connected to the pole. The 16-year-old driver and his 17-year-old passenger were not injured. The driver was ticketed for reckless driving.