March 4, 2019
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Avista Corporation installs first smart meters in Spokane

Officials from the Avista Corp. showed off the first smart meter in Spokane last week, part of a $165 million project that will result in more than 400,000 smart meters in Eastern Washington.

The Spokesman-Review talked to residents of a historic home in the Millwood neighborhood that faces energy efficiency challenges. The new smart meter will give the customers alerts that will allow them to predict their energy bills and make adjustments as needed. And the meter will notify Avista when there’s a power outage.

The cost of the new equipment will be included in Avista’s future rate requests, the newspaper reported.

About 76 million smart meters have already been installed across the country, the newspaper added, and about 60 percent of U.S. households have them.

“Smart meters are more than a movement; they’re a foregone conclusion,” Senior Vice President Sharelynn Moore of Itron Networks told the newspaper.

Itron manufactures smart-meter equipment.

Customers can opt out of the program for a $75 up front fee, and a $5 monthly cost. Company officials also report they’ve taken precautions to protect customer privacy.

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Workforce Summit This Week
Limiting Worker Choice

Flexible schedules are vital to hospitality industry

By Larry Freshler, a hotel industry professional for 30-plus years

I chose to make my career with hotels because I believe that schedule flexibility is an important benefit of the industry. Scheduling flexibility allows employees to decide when they want to work. Through this option, employees have the opportunity to make the best decisions for their health and the well-being of their families.

As an HR professional, we want to encourage positive working relationships and foster healthy conversations among employees and their employer. Creating a statewide mandate of how employees and employers must interact does not create a good environment or culture. In my experience, no matter where you are in the hotel, as an employee, you have input into your schedule and always have the chance to pick up more shifts if you want them, or vice versa.

A scheduling policy as complex as the one proposed in Olympia would be a logistical nightmare. If this policy were adopted, we would likely need to add staff just to manage the new scheduling demands. Currently we act as a team and schedule our employees taking into considering their schedules and requests. In all my time in HR, I've seen some interesting proposals, but this one limiting the scheduling abilities of employers might be the most burdensome yet...

Read the full guest column in The Spokesman-Review
Attack on Agriculture

Is there slavery in the domestic food supply chain?

By The Capital Press Editorial Board

If the Washington Senate Labor and Commerce Committee has its way, farmers and ranchers who supply large retailers doing business in the Evergreen State could find themselves certifying to those customers that they are not slavers.

Introduced by Seattle Democrat Rebecca Saldana, Senate Bill 5693 mandates that retailers with worldwide sales of more than $200 million require farmers and ranchers to report any incidents of slavery, peonage and human trafficking. Furthermore, the law would require any violation of labor laws to be reported...

No one denies that human trafficking, particularly in the sex trade, is a real problem. While there's probably little doubt that forced labor is a problem in the third world, there is no evidence that slavery or peonage is practiced on U.S. farms in general or Washington farms in particular.

Washington farm groups were rightly enraged by the suggestion.

Washington Potato and Onion Association lobbyist Jim Jesernig, said potato and onion growers were angry, and so was he.

"The supply chain that feeds you and your constituents are our farmers, ranchers and food processors. This accuses them of slavery and human trafficking."

Read the full editorial in The Capital Press
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