Pacific Power rates to go up a tad

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If you're a Pacific Power customer, your bill is headed upward, but not as much as might have been.

The utility reached a deal for the lower rate increase with the state Attorney General's Public Counsel Section, Utilities and Transportation Commission staff, Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities and The Energy Project, an advocacy group for low-income citizenry, according to a news release.

What it boils down to is this: Pacific Power had requested a 15.1 percent rate hike, which would have cost a typical residential customer -- one who uses 1,300 kilowatt hours a month -- $13.76 more per month. The settlement calls for a 5.3 percent hike, which amounts to $4.79 for that typical customer, the release said.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission still has to sign off on the deal, and the agency is still accepting public input. If you're up for a road trip, UTC commissioners will hold a public hearing Oct. 12 at Yakima Valley Community College, 1015 S. 16th Ave. The hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. in the college's Parker Room.

If you're more laid back, your monthly bill is set to details of the proposed agreement, as well as a detachable, pre-addressed comment form to share your opinions with state regulators.

If you're more laid back but don't want to wait, you can comment by e-mail to comments@utc.wa.gov or at www.utc.wa.gov/comment.

Yet another option is to comment on the phone, toll-free, at 1-888-333-9882.

For more information, go to www.utc.wa.gov and enter Docket UE-090205.

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Every so often, happy economic news breaks through the clouds of recession.

The latest silver lining is a survey showing retail sales growth of 3 percent over the last year in Walla Walla. That level of growth ranks the city 32nd out of the state's top 50 markets. The leader in the clubhouse is Seatac, which saw 19.7 percent growth, according to the Washington State Retail Survey. Marysville (17.9 percent), Lacey (12.7 percent) and Bonney Lake (11.7 percent) rounded out the cities that saw double-digit growth. Interesting tidbit: The state's top 50 markets account for 76 percent of Washington's annual retail sales, according the survey.

If you want to jump in on the deep end with this survey, you can order it for $166, including shipping, at washingtonstateretailsurvey.com or 530-647-1219.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Alasdair Stewart can be reached at alasdairstewart@wwub.com or 526-8311.

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