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Pacific Northwest

BPA

Wholesale rates

to be reduced Oct. 1

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The Bonneville Power Administration said yesterday that it will reduce wholesale power rates by 1.6 percent beginning Oct. 1.

Improved revenue from surplus power sales and cost cutting allowed the rate decrease, officials said.

“This is the third year in a row that we have reduced our wholesale power rates, which is good news for our customers and the Northwest economy,” said Steve Wright, BPA administrator.

The Portland-based federal power marketing agency supplies power to Northwest utilities.

Microsoft

Developers to see

preview of add-ons

Microsoft is releasing several new tools to help developers build software applications that work with its online search and communication products.

The hope is that such add-ons will draw more users to Microsoft products and help the company better compete with market leaders such as Google and America Online. The tools will mostly be released at a Microsoft developer conference next week in Los Angeles.

Microsoft said yesterday that the tools are for add-ons to its desktop, Internet and localized search technologies, as well as its MSN Messenger instant-messaging program.

Nation / World

Sears

Chairman takes

more active role

Hedge-fund wizard Edward Lampert is taking on a startling new role at Sears Holdings: chief marketer and merchandiser.

The billionaire chairman shook up top management at the No. 3 U.S. retailer yesterday after another poor quarter, naming Aylwin Lewis to replace Alan Lacy as chief executive officer and taking on a more direct role at the struggling company.

The moves come with sales sinking at the company’s two laggard chains, nearly six months after Kmart’s acquisition of Sears.

The news disappointed investors, who sent shares down $7.04 to $127.81 yesterday.

Ford

2 groups vying

to purchase Hertz

Ford is close to selling its Hertz rental-car division, a move that would help the struggling automaker raise cash, two executives familiar with the negotiations said yesterday.

Ford is expected to sell Hertz to one of two competing groups of corporate-buyout firms but hasn’t yet selected which one, according to the executives, who requested anonymity because the deal isn’t complete. Hertz could sell for as much as $15 billion.

A Ford spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the deal yesterday.

Ford is expected to announce its decision as early as today, one of the executives said.

Compiled from The Associated Press