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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Utilities panel agrees to stop surcharge

Electricity bills for Avista’s Eastern Washington customers will fall by 7 percent after state regulators eliminated a monthly surcharge that dated to the 2001 West Coast energy crisis. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission agreed to allow the utility to remove the surcharge, which will save most customers about $5.35 per month. Residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatts a month will see their monthly electric bill drop from $77.14 to $71.79.

Avista customers will see bills drop about $5

Electricity bills for Avista’s Eastern Washington customers will fall by 7 percent after state regulators eliminated a monthly surcharge that dated to the 2001 West Coast energy crisis.

Earth shelter

An earth-shelter home is unusual. And a home that has power but is completely off the power grid isn’t something you see every day. But an earth-shelter home that’s off the grid? Jena Pittmon isn’t sure, but she thinks there could be just one.

Obama’s speech to tout plans to energize economy

President Barack Obama will try to pivot past rocky times for the nation and himself Wednesday night in his first State of the Union address, offering a skeptical public repackaged plans to energize the economy, stem a tide of red ink and strengthen anti-terror defenses.

Power player

Consolidated Edison, the utility that wired Manhattan Island, has a problem. The solution may be in Spokane. ConEd built all its cable and associated infrastructure into tunnels now too cramped to handle more equipment, yet New Yorkers demand ever more electricity.

Economy, not weather, draining heating help

A Spokane nonprofit that provides energy assistance for low-income residents could run out of money for that program a month or two earlier than last year due to a record number of calls for help, despite a milder winter. The number of requests SNAP has received since Oct. 25 – nearly 12,000 – is about the same as the nonprofit had logged last March, the agency said. The amount of assistance expected to be paid out by the end of February is close to $6.6 million.

Stevens County company has state energy tie

Borgford BioEnergy LLC in Stevens County is one of four Washington companies that will work with the Department of Natural Resources on renewable energy projects using biomass from state lands. The company, with operations at Springdale and Valley, has developed a gasifier that turns waste wood into synthetic gas and bio-char, a material like charcoal that is useful as a soil additive.

Avista ending 7 percent monthly surcharge

Avista Corp. plans to drop a monthly surcharge paid by its 232,000 Eastern Washington electric customers that dates to the 2001 West Coast energy crisis. The 7 percent surcharge costs $5.35 per month for a household using an average of 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. In a Monday filing, the Spokane-based utility asked state regulators for permission to drop the surcharge by Feb. 12. If the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves the request as expected, the average residential customer’s monthly electric bill would drop from $77.14 to $71.79.

Odessa refinery helping meet demand for biodiesel

ODESSA, Wash. – It has been a rough go for Washington’s fledgling biodiesel industry, with only a handful of the announced projects actually coming into production and promised financial support from the state withering in the harsh economic climate. Yet one regional refinery is successfully turning crops from regional farmers into fuel for cars, trucks, buses and ferries. Inland Empire Oilseeds is becoming another made-in-Washington success story through the alliance of tough business sense and green idealism.

Yake, 90, helped reshape Spokane

The retired Spokane administrator who led the city’s engineering effort that transformed the industrialized, decaying core surrounding the Spokane Falls into a park that became the region’s central gathering spot died last week. Glen Yake was 90. Yake worked at City Hall for 33 years, including an 11-month stint in the top position, city manager.

More residents struggle to keep heat on

The sluggish economy is affecting Inland Northwest residents’ ability to heat their homes. Utilities are reporting higher rates of delinquent payments and shut-offs. And entities that provide energy assistance have been besieged with pleas for help.

Exxon Mobil deal places big bet on natural gas

Exxon Mobil’s purchase of a Texas natural gas producer for $29 billion could reshape the U.S. energy landscape, setting the stage for the fuel to challenge coal in the nation’s electrical grid and helping to alleviate American dependence on foreign oil. The wager by the nation’s largest oil company positions Exxon Mobil to thrive in a world in which petroleum, its key product, is getting tougher to come by.