State regulators fine Puget Sound Energy $250,000

November 12, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. Nov. 12, 2012

State regulators fined Puget Sound Energy $250,000 for violating a 2010 order to require the Bellevue-based utility to review and correct customer accounts, officials announced Nov. 9.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a multiparty settlement on a complaint based on violations stemming from the 2010 order. Officials said PSE violated the order 515 times.

The utility is not allowed to pass the penalty costs to customers through rate changes.

Regulators originally penalized the company $104,300 in October 2010 for improperly handling accounts of customers, including many low-income customers disconnected for nonpayment.

In addition to the penalty, regulators ordered the company to make corrections to 26 customer accounts identified by Utilities and Transportation Commission staffers.

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Regulators reduce Puget Sound Energy customers’ natural gas rates for winter

October 30, 2012

Puget Sound Energy customers can expect to pay less for natural gas as winter approaches.

The average residential natural gas customer using 68 therms per month is due to receive a 7.1 percent — or $5.82 — drop in rates, after state regulators approved the change Oct. 25. The revised rate goes into effect Nov. 1.

The average residential natural gas customer should pay $76.59 under the revised rate. The rate is comparable to what PSE customers paid in 2009.

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Regulators approve lower natural gas rates for Puget Sound Energy

October 26, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 26, 2012

Puget Sound Energy customers can expect to pay less for natural gas as winter approaches.

The average residential natural gas customer using 68 therms per month is due to receive a 7.1 percent — or $5.82 — drop, after state regulators approved the change Thursday. The revised rate goes into effect Nov. 1.

The average residential natural gas customer should pay $76.59 under the revised rate. The rate is comparable to what PSE customers paid in 2009.

The utility provider for Issaquah and much of Western Washington asked state regulators last month to decrease natural gas rates. The wholesale price for natural gas is down due to abundant domestic supplies.

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Crews rebuild downtown gas station

October 23, 2012

Expect the remade downtown Shell gas station and Jacksons convenience store to stand taller and cover more ground than the boxlike former structure after a monthslong overhaul concludes.

The planned store at Front Street and Sunset Way should feature a more modern, spacious layout and additional options. The planned façade includes sconces and stone accents. The gas station site is also in line to receive additional landscaping after construction concludes.

Crews started the major overhaul Sept. 11, a day after the business closed to customers.

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Puget Sound Energy recruits contestants for home makeover

October 16, 2012

Puget Sound Energy is recruiting for Re-Energized by Design, a new campaign in which six residential PSE customers will compete in a series of energy-efficient makeover challenges. The entry deadline is Oct. 31.

Contestants will complete a series of room makeovers using the latest energy-efficient products provided by PSE, GE and Frigidaire with the help of a design coach. A local celebrity judge panel will review and score each makeover challenge. The lowest-scoring contestant in each round will be eliminated.

The final three contestants will win a high-efficiency clothes washer and matching dryer, and the final two will win an ultra-efficient kitchen with refrigerator, dishwasher, range and microwave. The last contestant standing will win a $5,000 prize.

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Puget Sound Energy prepares for high seasonal rain, wind

October 12, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 12, 2012

Puget Sound Energy is prepared if high winds and heavy rain hit the region in the days ahead as forecast, a company executive said Thursday.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle said heavy rain is expected throughout the Puget Sound region over the weekend and into next week. The long spell of dry weather came to a sudden end Friday, and heavy rain is expected to arrive late Saturday.

Andy Wappler, PSE vice president of corporate affairs and a certified meteorologist, said the Bellevue-based utility spent the dry months preparing for autumn and winter weather.

“While the sun was shining these past few months, our crews were busy trimming trees, working on reliability projects and getting ready for winter,” he said in a statement. “Now that the weather is changing, those preparations will help us serve our customers as storm season begins.”

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Grand Ridge Elementary welcomes winds of change, Puget Sound Energy turbine

October 9, 2012

Students stand near the Grand Ridge Elementary School wind turbine Oct. 2. By Lillian O’Rorke

Grand Ridge Elementary School embraced the winds that frequently blow through the playground when it teamed with Puget Sound Energy on Oct. 2 to dedicate its new wind turbine.

To welcome the new addition, students and staff were joined by members of the community, including Superintendent Steve Rasmussen, for a celebratory assembly, which was made complete by the choral talents of Grand Ridge’s fifth-graders.

The project got its start in 2009 when Steve Crawford, the district’s director of capital projects, began measuring the wind at the school’s Issaquah Highlands location and approached Puget Sound Energy. Two years later, the school got a $10,900 grant from the company’s Renewable Energy Education Program and the small-scale wind turbine was erected May 3.

At 45 feet tall and 12 feet across at the top, it can generate up to 1.8 kilowatts of energy, which is enough energy to power 30 60-watt light bulbs.

The grant also included materials and support — including science lesson training, classroom activity guides and renewable-energy kits — so that in addition to powering part of the school, the turbine will teach students about wind energy and renewable resources.

Experience 40 years of Issaquah History Museums milestones

October 9, 2012

In 40 years, the Issaquah History Museums has experienced numerous milestones.

  • 1972 — Issaquah Historical Society is founded.
  • 1972 — Issaquah Historical Society leases Gilman Town Hall from city.
  • 1973 — Gilman Town Hall opens as organization’s historical center.
  • 1983 — Society negotiates purchase of Issaquah Train Depot from city.
  • 1985 — Ground is broken on depot restoration project.
  • 1985 — Work on Gilman Town Hall remodel starts.
  • 1989 — Weyerhaeuser Corp. donates caboose to the organization.
  • 1992 — Issaquah Train Depot is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 2004 — Issaquah Historical Society changes name to Issaquah History Museums.
  • 2005 — Puget Sound Energy donates historic Alexander House to the museums. The organization later donates the building to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce for offices.
  • 2006 — Museums’ oral history project captures the stories and memories of about 25 narrators.
  • 2012 — Refurbished Issaquah Valley Trolley Project streetcar returns to Issaquah for service.

Puget Sound Energy seeks natural gas rate decrease

September 26, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 26, 2012

Puget Sound Energy customers could pay less for natural gas as winter arrives.

The utility provider for Issaquah and much of Western Washington asked state regulators Tuesday to decrease natural gas rates by 7.7 percent overall starting Nov. 1.

The proposed purchased gas adjustment decrease should lower a typical household’s natural gas bill — based on 68 therms of average monthly usage over a 12-month period — by $5.82, to $76.59. The rate is comparable to what PSE customers paid in 2009.

PSE aims to drop commercial rates by about 8 percent.

The wholesale price for natural gas is down due to abundant domestic supplies.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue responds to downtown gas leak

September 25, 2012

NEW — 12:10 p.m. Sept. 25, 2012

Crews at work on a reconstruction project at a downtown Issaquah gas station struck a gas line Tuesday, prompting a response from Eastside Fire & Rescue and Puget Sound Energy.

The smell of gas filled the air near the construction site at the intersection of Front Street and Sunset Way for several minutes at about noon. Firefighters used traffic cones to cordon off the parking lot at Front Street Market and asked motorists not to start their vehicles near the site.

Crews started a major overhaul at the downtown Shell gas station and Jacksons convenience store Sept. 11.

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