Idaho Senate votes 18-17 to kill power assistance bill - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho Senate votes 18-17 to kill power assistance bill

BOISE, Idaho. - Idaho senators voted 18-17 to kill a bill to allow utilities like Avista Corp. to establish programs to help struggling customers pay their bills with help from other ratepayers.

Several lawmakers expressed concern paying customers would unfairly bear the burden of helping out cash-strapped neighbors who miss power or gas payments not out of actual need, but because they made poor financial choices.

Avista had hoped to establish a pilot program in Idaho similar to a plan in Washington that adds about 50 cents to most customer's monthly bills.

After the measure died in the Senate, however, Neil Colwell, a lobbyist for the utility that serves 115,000 people in northern Idaho, said Friday he's hoping to resurrect the plan, with safeguards that assure assistance goes to people who really need it.

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