Business Briefs – April 2022

Lamb Weston declares dividend

Eagle, Idaho-based Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. will pay a 24.5 cent dividend to shareholders on June 3.

The board of the frozen potato giant announced the dividend March 24 in advance of the April 7 release of its latest quarterly results on April 8.

Lamb Weston has significant production, research, testing and corporate offices in the Tri-Cities.

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UTC staff announce settlement on Cascade Natural Gas rate proposal

 Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission staff recently filed an agreement to settle Cascade Natural Gas’ request to increase customer rates in Washington.

The three-member commission, which is not bound by the agreement, will make a final decision on the utility’s revenue-increase request this summer. 

A virtual public comment hearing is set for May 25 for customers to comment on the proposal.

Under the agreement, Kennewick-based Cascade Natural Gas will see an increase of $10.7 million, or 8.6%, a decrease from the $13.7 million (11.1%) in the company’s original request.

The company limited its request to a few major items, attributing most of its rate increase request to additional infrastructure that came into service since its most recent rate case, and wage increases that went into effect in 2021.

Offsetting the revenue increase request, the settlement also includes a $3 million reduction related to how the company calculated the depreciation of its assets in 2021. Over time, as facility and plant investments age and their value decreases, the amount utilities can recover for those investments from customer rates also decreases.

Parties to the settlement are UTC staff and Cascade Natural Gas; the Public Counsel Section of the Attorney General’s Office, The Energy Project, and the Alliance of Western Energy Customers participated in the proceeding representing customer interests but are not parties to the agreement.

Cascade Natural Gas serves almost 230,000 residential and business customers in 68 communities throughout the state, including Kennewick, Moses Lake, Walla Walla, Wenatchee, Yakima, Aberdeen, Bellingham, Bremerton, Longview and Mount Vernon.

It’s Taco Crawl time in downtown Pasco 

The annual Taco Crawl to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties returns April 22-May 7. 

Taco trucks and Mexican restaurants in downtown Pasco are participating in the eat-at-your-own pace program. 

Participants purchase booklets that contain vouchers good for one taco from each of the 20 participating establishments. Booklets are $35 plus fees.  

Previous events have raised more than $35,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs. In addition to supporting youth programs, the crawl introduces Tri-Citians to some of the best tacos available in the region. Participants vote for the Best Taco in Pasco, with the winner announced during Cinco de Mayo festivities in downtown Pasco, to be celebrated May 7.  

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Numerica offers $20K for scholarships

Numerica Credit Union is offering $20,000 in scholarships to high school seniors and college students in its service area, which covers Eastern Washington, central Washington and north Idaho.

The application deadline is April 30.

The credit union will offer four $2,500 Continuing Education Scholarships to college students working full time on an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in fall 2022.

It is offering 10 $1,000 Starting Off Right Scholarships to seniors who will enter a trade, vocational, certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree program in the fall.

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OCOchem secures $1.5M for clean energy project

The Washington State Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Fund awarded a Richland company $1.5 million to develop green portable generators and fuels for refrigerated cargo containers at the Port of Tacoma

OCOchem, established in 2017, is partnering with Washington Martime Blue, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sacre-Davey Engineering, Johnston Engineering and Det Norske Veritas on the project.

The OCOchem approach uses naturally occurring formic acid for its liquid hydrogen carrier. The intent is for Tacoma Power to use the fuel technology to replace diesel generators at the port.

“This approach is as carbon neutral as green hydrogen gas but is much safer, uses existing fuel infrastructure and is delivered at nearly half the price,” said Todd Brix, co-founder and CEO of OCOchem. “We believe Washington state and Tacoma are the best place to manufacture safe green electro-fuels for local and export use, creating high-wage manufacturing jobs.”

OCOchem is a venture-backed clean tech startup that develops and commercializes technology that uses recycled carbon dioxide to store green energy in a chemical form that can be converted to green hydrogen. It has received research and development funding from the U.S. departments of Energy and Defense and ARPA-E and is an inaugural member of Halliburton Labs.

It operates its principal laboratories in Richland. Go to:

2022 Mammoth Cup Golf Tourney is May 13

A major fundraiser for the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute near Pendleton is back on the calendar.

The 2022 Mammoth Cup Golf Tournament is May 13 at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino Golf Course. The event was suspended for two years due to the pandemic.

The scramble format tournament is the primary fundraiser for the Tamástslikt  Cultural Institute, an interpretive center and museum of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

It has welcomed more than 500,000 guests since it opened in 1998.

The tournament entry fee is $95 per person, or $380 for foursomes, and includes green fees, complimentary range balls, tee prizes and a sack lunch. Beverage carts are available throughout the day and there is a drawing for merchandise, golf items and side bets.

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Chamber’s Stephanie Barnard running for state House seat

Stephanie Barnard, head of government affairs for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, is running for the state House District 8 position currently held by Rep. Brad Klippert.

Barnard, a Pasco resident, is running as a Republican in the district whose boundaries have been adjusted to include portions of Franklin County. She announced she would run after Duane Davidson, former Benton County treasurer and former Washington state treasurer, said he would not run.

“I’ve been at the frontline with local businesses combating unnecessary regulations and mandates,” she said in her announcement. “I can’t sit back and watch disastrous policies continue to erode our economy, our families’ budgets and our liberties.”

Klippert, a Kennewick Republican, is challenging U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, for his seat in Congress. Newhouse has endorsed Barnard.

May 16-20 is filing week for the 2022 election cycle. All House seats are up for election as is the 8th Legislative District Senate seat held by Sharon Brown, who is not seeking reelection. State Rep. Matt Boehnke, a Kennewick Republican, is running for the vacant seat.

Communities in Schools fundraiser is in May

Communities in Schools Benton-Franklin holds its fifth annual Spring Into Action fundraising breakfast at 7:30 a.m. May 12 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

Communities in Schools leverages relationships to address the systemic barriers students face due to marginalization, unequal learning environments, income equality, opportunity gaps, housing insecurity and more.

The event is free but attendees are asked to contribute to the organization.

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