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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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Mayor cites innovation in face of deficit

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said Friday her administration has “plans in place and work under way” to deal with another deficit facing the city. “As we go about our business in 2010, we’re going to provide all the programs and services you’ve come to expect from us, while we push ahead with creativity and innovation,” Verner said in her annual State of the City address. “We’re going to be developing new ways of doing business. We’re going to maintain our financial strength, and we’re going to bolster our local economy.”

Spokane City Council OKs 2010 budget

Spokane leaders last week climbed out of a $7 million budget hole and approved the city’s 2010 budget with no layoffs and no dramatic loss of city services. The approval allows officials to concentrate on a bigger financial challenge: a predicted deficit of more than $10 million in 2011.

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.

Partial Avista rate hike approved

Effective Jan. 1, energy costs are going up for Avista Corp.’s Eastern Washington customers. On Tuesday, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission gave the Spokane-based utility approval to charge more for electricity and natural gas. But the three-member commission decided that Avista can only collect a fraction of the amount it requested in a rate case filed last January.

Sewer rates may go up

Flushing your toilet in the city of Spokane may cost $5 a month more in 2010. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner on Monday presented her 2010 budget to the City Council. It includes a 15 percent rate increase for city sewage service.

COSTLIER CABINS

Following his retirement in the mid-1990s, Tom Simons moved to the Heyburn State Park vacation cabin he’d acquired some 30 years prior. The small cabin is in a wooded section of the 8,000-acre park, within easy walking distance of Chatcolet Lake. “I like it here. You’ve got the lake and all the trees and it’s nice and quiet,” said Simons, who is 73.

Avista wants more money

Avista Utilities today asked Washington and Idaho regulators to approve electricity and natural gas increases that will boost average combined monthly payments $9 to $10 per month.

Spokane council approves utility increases

Spokane trash, sewer and water customers will soon have to pay a few extra dollars a month on their utility bills. The Spokane City Council unanimously approved on Monday a 3.5 percent billing increase that had been proposed in the fall by Mayor Mary Verner.

Suit alleges scheme at Grant PUD

The Grant County Public Utility District will renew expansion of its fiber-optic network after a two-year hiatus imposed because of significant financial losses, but the decision by no means puts the controversy over the operation behind it. A new lawsuit alleging conspiracy and racketeering by the district has been filed in U.S. District Court. Many of the claims repeat, sometimes verbatim, charges the PUD itself made against another electric utility, Benton County Rural Electric Association. That 2004 lawsuit was settled out of court, with the REA paying the PUD about $450,000. Neither side admitted wrongdoing.

Deal Escalates Utility Turf War Agreement Would Allow Wwp To Match Prices Offered By Inland Power In Two Areas

A turf war between two utilities serving Spokane escalated Thursday with the disclosure of a proposed electricity rate settlement. Terms, if approved by Washington regulators, will allow Washington Water Power Co. to match prices offered largely to commercial customers by Inland Power & Light Co. where utility distribution lines overlap. Inland has underbid WWP for new accounts because, as a member-owned cooperative, its board of directors sets the rates without review by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Coalition Seeks Delay Of Power Deregulation Group Says Action Would Threaten Strong Economic Asset

A new coalition that combines labor, environmental and farm interests has asked Washington Gov. Gary Locke to delay action on electricity deregulation, which they say could sacrifice one of the state's biggest economic assets. Consumers for Common Sense delivered a letter to Locke's office Friday that suggests deregulation, which gives all electricity consumers a choice of suppliers, would jeopardize low rates, reliability, and funding for energy conservation and environmental protection. "We hope you would frame the debate by asking all the proponents of change to answer the following question: 'What problem are we trying to fix?"' the letter says.

Bpa Brass Misjudged On Plant Unfinished Facility Near Tacoma Has $115 Million Tab So Far

Documents obtained by The Oregonian show a long chain of misjudgments by the Bonneville Power Administration has cost its ratepayers at least $115 million for an abandoned power plant. The unfinished power project, rusting amid weeds near Tacoma, is now part of a bitter legal battle being fought behind closed doors by the plant's Nebraska-based developer, Tenaska Washington Partners II.

Minidoka Power Plant Up, Running Smoothly

The new $62 million power plant at Minidoka Dam on the Snake River is running so smoothly that a nickel balances atop a 30-ton generator bearing. It is an old trick engineers use to test for vibration, mechanical construction inspector John Milles said. Vibration is something dam overseers do not want to see in their brand-new plant.

Craig’s Summit On Power To Open Hearing On Deregulation Stacked, Opponents Claim

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig convenes The Power Summit today. The daylong gathering of experts is extensively underwritten by substantial contributors to Craig's 1996 re-election that have a vested interest in electricity deregulation. Critics, even some who are participating, contend the event is stacked up to be nothing more than a rally for deregulation.

Doubletree Takes Leap Into Future Fuel Cell Helps To Power Hotel

WWP project manager Harold Wilkinson prepares to open the doors on the fuel cell installed at the downtown Doubletree Hotel. It is the first commercial fuel cell sited anywhere in the Northwest. Photo by Torsten Kjellstrand/The Spokesman-Review

Wwp Enters Into Transmission Pact

Washington Water Power Co. has signed an agreement with Portland General Electric that will lock in some of the transmission capacity needed to sell power in California. The pact signed last week provides WWP with 100 megawatts of firm transmission capacity through the end of 1997. The available capacity then doubles to 200 megawatts for the four years that end Dec. 31, 2001.