Tougher dig safety law goes into effect

January 29, 2013

Changes to the state call-before-you-dig law went into effect Jan. 1, and the updated rules include stiffer penalties, mandatory damage reporting and clearer procedures — even for deep digging in a garden or yard.

The law affects all excavators, including contractors, homeowners and utilities. State lawmakers passed the law in 2011 at the request of the state Utilities and Transportation Commission. Officials said the switch is intended to decrease damage to underground pipelines and utilities.

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Tougher dig law goes into effect with intent to reduce damage

January 3, 2013

NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 3, 2013

Changes to the state call-before-you-dig law went into effect Tuesday, and the updated rules include stiffer penalties, mandatory damage reporting and clearer procedures — even for deep digging in a garden or yard.

The law affects all excavators, including contractors, homeowners and utilities. State lawmakers passed the law in 2011 at the request of the state Utilities and Transportation Commission. Officials said the switch is intended to improve communication and decrease damage to underground pipelines and utilities.

Under the law, excavators and utilities must report to the Utilities and Transportation Commission any damage to underground facilities within 45 days. Under the previous law, excavators only had to report damage to regulated natural gas and hazardous liquid facilities.

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State regulators fine Puget Sound Energy $430,000

December 18, 2012

State regulators fined Puget Sound Energy $430,000 for improperly charging residential disconnect-visit fees to electricity and natural gas customers, officials announced Nov. 30.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a multiparty settlement agreement stemming from 1,639 violations of state consumer protection rules.

In addition to the penalty, Bellevue-based PSE refunded to customers more than 9,000 disconnect-visit fees charged in error dating back to December 2009. The utility provider also agreed to change procedures for handling such visits.

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State regulators fine Puget Sound Energy $250,000

December 11, 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 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.

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Regulators fine Puget Sound Energy $430,000 for improper disconnect fees

December 1, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Dec. 1, 2012

State regulators fined Puget Sound Energy $430,000 for improperly charging residential disconnect-visit fees to electricity and natural gas customers, officials announced Friday.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a multiparty settlement agreement stemming from 1,639 violations of state consumer protection rules.

In addition to the penalty, Bellevue-based PSE refunded to customers more than 9,000 disconnect-visit fees charged in error dating back to December 2009. The utility provider also agreed to change procedures for handling such visits.

The company is not allowed to pass any penalty costs to customers through rates. Instead, penalty money goes into the public service revolving fund; legislators make disbursements from the account.

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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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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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Trash strike causes confusion for Issaquah customers

August 7, 2012

Drivers for the garbage hauler in most Issaquah neighborhoods fielded questions in late July as a strike paralyzed another hauler and led to festering containers on street corners in many King County cities.

The strike did not affect either contract hauler operating in Issaquah, but drivers for CleanScapes received questions from customers along collection routes. Many customers assumed the drivers to be nonunion replacement drivers for Waste Management.

CleanScapes drivers, members of Teamsters Local 174, operate under a contract signed last year. The company operates under a single labor agreement with garbage, recycling and yard waste drivers.

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