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Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island, Washington
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January 14, 1998     Mercer Island Reporter
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January 14, 1998
 

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A2 Mercer Island Reporter Gurton explains to local Rotarians his proposal to restructure electric utilities By Jane Meyer Mercer Island Reporter hink of the telephone industry, I the trucking industry, the air— lines. They’ve been transformed in the last 20 years by deregulation. And many believe the electric indus- try is next. The marketing of power in the United States in the future is the most important issue facing the Pacific Northwest, according to Sen. Slade Gorton. He discussed energy issues and deregulation on Mercer Island last week, when he was featured speaker at the Mercer island Rotary Club on Tuesday, Jan. 6. Deregulation of electric utility com- panies is inevitable, Gorton believes, and Congress will pass new laws on it in the next three or four years. Cunently, the bills under discussion in Washington will set national rules but give pref- erence to states that deregulate the electric industries on their own. “The real question is what role we in the Northwest will play,” he said. The fear, of course, is that the huge price advantage that the Pacific Northwest has enjoyed could disap- pear. Because of the region’s hydro- electric power resources, the cost of electric service here has been the low- est in the nation. But deregulation doesn’t necessarily mean higher costs, according to Gorton, and he questions studies which have forecast that dereg- ulation would result in 15-25 percent cost increases for Northwestemers. He says we need to act now. ahead of federal deregulation, to protect the Northwest's low-cost hydroelectric power, much of which is marketed by the federal Bonneville Power Administration. “1 encourage the leg- islators in this state to solve our en— ergy problems rather than wait for the feds to do it," he said. He is co-sponsor with Sen. Dale How to contact your lawmakers The 1998 Washington State I egislature convened this week in lympia. If you’d like to contact one f the 4lst District lawmakers, here’s l ow: Sen. Jim Hom (R), 4 1 st Legislative istrict; (206) 232—2347, PO. Box CRUISE Great Prices - Personalized service We know the Ships! Cruise Professionals 206-236-0990 Should I Convert '-*' “" New Roth IRA? If you’re asking yourself this ues- tion, Edward ones can help. We’ll help . analyze the benefits , of converting to a Roth IRA ‘ or continuin to contribute 2 ‘ to your tra itional IRA. " 11321 9069“ Call or stop by today. MLMMI,OFP Manila“ Humid-d 100.23)“ mm Edwardlones Serving Individual inventors Since 1871 Matt Brashears/Mercer Island Reporter U.S. Senator Slade Gorton spoke en energy issues at the Mercer Island Rotary Club lunch on Tuesday. Bumpers of Arkansas of a bipartisan energy bill that he said will protect the advantaged position of the Pacific Northwest, and would also allow the 40482 Olympia, WA 98504-0482. Office: Institutions 107 (360) 786- 7680; Fax (360) 786-7819; e-mail: horn-ji@leg.wa.gov Rep. Ida Ballasiotes (R), 4lst Legislative District; (206) 232-7551. PO. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504— 0600; Office: O’Brien 431 (360) 786— 7926 Fax: (206) 236-4208/ (360) 786- 1066; e-mail: ballasio—id@leg.wa.gov region to sell its excess hydroelectric power to other states through power “credits.” Once deregulation occurs, electric Rep. Mike Wensman (R), 41st Legislative District; (206) 232-6210, PO. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600; Office: O’Brien 412 (360) 786- 7894; e-mail: wensman—mi@leg.wagov Ballasiotes in: REPORTER Published by King County Journal Newspapers 7845 SE 30th Street - P.0. Box 38 Mercer Island, WA 0 98040 Phone: (206) 232-1215 0 Fax: (206) 232-1284 0 Hours: Monday-Friday, Bani Spin The Mercer Island Reporter (USPS 339020) is published weekly every Wednesday. Secondclass postage paid at Mercer Island. WA. Subscription rates by junior dealers and motor routes. ‘3 per Subscribe: Call 4254534240 Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. A 3-month subscription is ‘9.00. a 6-month subscription is ‘18.00, and a full year subscription is 36.00. Delivery & Billing: 0014254534240 Monday Friday from 8am to 5pm for delivery questions or billing con- cems. Advertise: Classified Marketplace: 425455-2525 Deadline is 3pm on Mondays. Retail Advertising: 206432-1215 Deadline is 5pm on Fridays: for ads I requiring proofs. deadline is noon on Fridays. Personnel: President: Peter A. Horvitz.425- 453- 4601 Messages 24 Hrs: 425450-12” paler.liar1'it:@lmri'r'I:umspaprrsmr Publisher, Vice President/New Media: Catherine Shen. 425-453-2713 Editor & General Manager: month; ‘36 per year, by mail in King County, ‘36 per year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mercer Island Reponer, PO. Box 38. Mercer Island. WA 98040. Jane Meyer, 206-232-l2l5 Associate Editor: Linda Morgan, 206-232-1215 Circulation Manager: Aidan Mahcr. 205-232-[215 Advertising Account Executive: Aidan Maher. 206-232-1215 News Stali': V Ethan Fowler, Jeff Gove, DeAnn Rossetti Photographer: Matt Brashears Office Manager: Joan Allen Newsroom: The Mercer island Reponer encourages ideas for local stories. Call the newsroom at 206—232-1215. Deadlines for calendar items, general news and most sports is 5pm Fridays. Deadline for Letters to the Editor is noon Mondays. Or you can e-mail us at www.mi-reponencom In... @- Employment: Mercer Island Reporter is an equal M a opponunity employer, Contact 425—453-4615 for information. What you don’t know works against you. The YOU A BUILDING most WHEN YOU ARE OR REMODELING A powerful RARTNER HAVE buying HOME IS YOUR-LENDER introducing the Boston Company 8t Mellon Select Series. 5% Down - No Income Qualifiers - 90% Cash Out on Home Improvements 100%6inancing Loans To 3 Million' With one consultation you will learn how we can help you get more power behind your money._Call Karen’Griffin 206-7l8-8979 Personal Access Line. Mellon Mortgage Company power would be a choice for the con- sumer, just as long—distance telephone service is today. He discussed the rumors that President Clinton will propose to sell the EPA, either to a private buyer or consortium of Northwest governments. It’s not likely that a private investor would be interested, he said. In fact, with its huge WPPS debt and fish obligation, it has a negative net worth, he said. Key to the whole issue of energy and the future of the EPA is a central ques- tion, according to Gorton. “We in the Northwest haven’t decided how im- portant hydroelectric power is to us. We’ve concentrated on how to save the salmon." The BPA has been pay- ing $425 million per year to save the salmon, with little result, he pointed out. The waters of the Columbia River have had a myriad of uses: as fish habitat, for power production, irriga- tion, transportation flood control, and recreation. Not all of the uses are al~ ways consistent with the others, Gorton pointed out, and there’s no entity that looks at all uses. “There’s fractured authority over the river. . .The question before all of us is how do we balance all of the uses, and who should do the balancing?” Gorton believes the balance has been in favor of the fish, at the ex- pense of other interests. “1 don’t think people in the state are willing to give up transportation or agricultural in- terests for one entity. . He called for renewed debate on the issues among the people in the Pacific Northwest. “The way we man- age the Columbia River and the Stake River system is the most important issue in the region. . .We in Washington DC. can’t make decisions until the people in the Pacific Northwest have significant debate, and seek imagina— tive and productive answers.” Wensman Introductory Offer 89 COLOR Wednesday, January 14, 1998 School technology levy tabled for now; more study needed By Jeff Gove Mercer Island Reporter When Island voters go to the polls on Feb. 3, they’ll have two measures to vote on: the Mercer Island School District’s general fund levy (former- ly called the maintenance and oper— ations levy) and the Emergency Medical Services levy. They won’t have to consider a special levy to fund technology in the schools. The Mercer Island School Board indefinitely postponed that ini- tiative at their meeting on Dec. 4. But another election to decide the fate of that plan could be scheduled early as May, district officials re— ported at the school board meeting on Thursday. The School Board tabled the is— sue for further discussion because of concerns that the proposal wasn't ready to go to the voters. At the Dec. 4 meeting, board members and com- munity residents expressed confu— sion about certain aspects of the tech- nology plan that designates how the district would spend the levy mon— ey. The most contentious issue was the district’s decision to stay with Apple computers rather than switch— ing to a PC compatible platform. Throughout January, district ad- ministrators will begin collecting in- formation to try and clear up some of the questions. They will reexamine what other districts in the area have done with computers and they will meet with representatives from some of the equipment and software manufac- turers to see how their products will be changing in the coming years. Several community members who work in the computer industry have offered to help guide the district through this process. Because the district had not orig- inally planned to be working on the technology plan this year, no definite time line for its completion exists at this time. District administrators will now have to fit their work on tech- nology into an already full schedule. “I think what‘s going to happen is we're going to work on this plan un- til we have something to present to the community," said Associate Superintendent Michael Soltman, “and that could be May or it could be November.” If the administrators make signif- icant progress this month, a com— munity forum to gather public opin— ion on the issue could be scheduled for Feb. 12. Look for a decision on that meeting in the next few weeks. Do you have questions about Mercer 0 Island 80110018? We’llget the? Have you ever wondered how many teachers in the Mercer Island School District have advanced de» 8"”5531. ’ ' ' .r ,; v ' How decisions are decisions made about textbooks'and curricu— lum? Ever wondered what to do if you suspect your child might have a learning disability? What about using spacein the schools for club 1 meetings w can Island residents arrange it? Do you have questions about Mercer Island schoolsor education color coplesl. your documents! 415275 one Kris R0655 Jane Eagle Fora limited time, Mail Boxes Etc.®*is offering an unbelievable deal on quality Try us today and see how color copies from Mail Boxes Etc. can add a spark to i O I a MAEBOXESETC.” TABIT VILLAGE SQUARE 7683 SE 27th St Mercer Island ' 232-3053 Restrictions apply. Partlclpatlng locations only. Each Mail Boxes Etc: Center is an independent owned and operated franchise. @1994 Mail Boxes Etc. Kris The #1 RC on the Island? In our new column. “Ask the Schools” we’ll get mean. 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