The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said it will postpone a decision on the pending $5.3 billion merger of Avista Corp. and Hydro One Ltd. by four months, until Dec. 14. The state regulatory agency said it took the delay after the provincial government of Ontario forced the retirement of Hydro One's CEO and the resignation of the utility's entire board of directors.

Cascade Natural Gas Corp. will lower its annual utility rates by $5.4 million, or 2.6%, following UTC's approval of a rate settlement case. The rate changes will take effect on Aug. 1. Cascade originally filed for a $5.9 million (2.7%) rate increase, but reached an all-party settlement in May for a $5.2 million decrease in rates. The decrease was mostly driven by the impact of last year's federal tax reform.

The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General (IG) has opened an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The IG informed Democratic Reps. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, Donald McEachin of Virginia and Jared Huffman of California that it launched a probe on July 16 into allegations that Zinke violated conflict of interest laws by cooperating with a Halliburton Co. executive to advance land developments in Zinke's hometown, Whitefish, MT.