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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State allows studded tires as winter approaches

October 30, 2012

The change in seasons means motorists can again use studded tires.

In Washington, studded tires can be legally used between Nov. 1 and March 31. Violators face a $124 penalty during other months. The abrasion on roads caused by studded tires wears down pavement at a much greater rate.

The state Department of Transportation recommends motorists headed into higher elevations carry chains and use approved traction tires year round.

In addition to studded tires, the Washington State Patrol reminds all drivers and freight haulers to carry sufficient chains between Nov. 1 and April 1.

Under state law, commercial vehicles and combinations of vehicles more than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating must carry sufficient tire chains.

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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King County executive proposes $20 fee to fund roads

October 9, 2012

Unincorporated King County residents could pay a $20 vehicle license fee next year to shore up road maintenance in rural areas.

Dow Constantine

King County Executive Dow Constantine recommended the fee in the proposed 2013 budget. The fee is projected to raise $4.5 million to fund road projects in unincorporated areas, such as Klahanie, May Valley and Preston in the Issaquah area.

The alternative could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

Still, county leaders need about $50 million to $65 million per year to maintain the 1,500-mile road network in unincorporated King County.

“The fee won’t be enough, not by a long shot. But it’s the only remaining authority left to counties by the Legislature,” Constantine said in a Sept. 24 budget address to the King County Council. “The system for funding local transportation in Washington state is broken. Everybody knows it. We have a 1930s revenue system to fund 21st century transportation needs.”

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King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

September 4, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Dow Constantine

Kathy Lambert

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Aug. 23. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially of roads in rural areas.

The road overlay program is shrinking. Officials said only 11 miles of deteriorated roadway could be repaved before year’s end. In the next budget cycle, the county might not have any local funding for paving, unless officials gain additional revenue sources.

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King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

August 24, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. Aug. 24, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Thursday. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially roads in rural areas.

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Issaquah Library celebrates 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

April 10, 2012

Fearless construction workers check the joists on the Space Needle’s halo. Photo from ‘The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy’ Photo from 'The Future Remembered'

The region is in the midst of a back-to-the-future moment.

The 1962 Century 21 Exposition opened a half-century ago and transformed Seattle and surrounding communities. Paula Becker and Alan Stein, staff historians for HistoryLink.org, chronicled the expo in the book “The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and Its Legacy” — a retrospective commissioned by Seattle Center and the Seattle Center Foundation.

The authors plan to lead a discussion about the book April 14 at the Issaquah Library.

Organizers originally scheduled the library event for Jan. 17, but a snowstorm led to a delay. Now, Becker and Stein plan to hold the event a week before the 50th anniversary, as Century 21 nostalgia grows as thick as a Belgian waffle.

April 21 marks 50 years since President John F. Kennedy tapped a telegraph key encrusted in golden nuggets to open the fair. The expo lasted until Oct. 21, 1962.

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State extends studded tire deadline to April 16

March 27, 2012

The state Department of Transportation extended the studded tire removal deadline to April 16 in preparation for possible wintry conditions during the Easter holiday weekend.

In Washington, studded tires can be legally used between Nov. 1 and March 31, unless the state extends the removal deadline. Violators face a $124 penalty during other months.

“This year, we have a combination of winter weather still in the forecast for much of the state,” Chris Christopher, director of maintenance operations, said in a statement. “With spring break and Easter right around the corner, we wanted to give drivers the chance to travel before having to take off their studded tires.”

The state transportation agency recommends motorists headed into higher elevations carry chains and use approved traction tires year round.

Officials do not expect to extend the deadline beyond April 16.

Department of Transportation extends studded tire deadline

March 22, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. March 22, 2012

The state Department of Transportation extended the studded tire removal deadline to April 16 in preparation for possible wintry conditions during the Easter holiday weekend.

In Washington, studded tires can be legally used between Nov. 1 and March 31, unless the state extends the removal deadline. Violators face a $124 penalty during other months.

The state transportation agency recommends motorists headed into higher elevations carry chains and use approved traction tires year round.

“This year, we have a combination of winter weather still in the forecast for much of the state,” Chris Christopher, director of maintenance operations, said in a statement. “With spring break and Easter right around the corner, we wanted to give drivers the chance to travel before having to take off their studded tires.”

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Hearing offers customers a chance to respond to utilities’ January storm efforts

March 15, 2012

NEW — 11:15 a.m. March 15, 2012

Utility customers from Issaquah and other areas impacted during the January storms can offer input on energy and telephone companies’ responses at a public hearing in Olympia.

People affected by the snowstorm and subsequent ice storm can speak at the state Utilities and Transportation Commission’s public hearing Monday. The commission meets at 9:30 a.m. Monday at 1300 S. Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia.

Starting at 9:30 a.m., Puget Sound Energy representatives plan to discuss electricity-related problems encountered during the storms. Then, at 10:30 a.m., regional cable and telephone companies plan to discuss performance during the storms. The public comment portion starts at 11:15 a.m.

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