Jul 17 , 2009
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission today approved four rate adjustments that result in a little more than a one percent rate increase - about $1- for both Idaho electric and natural gas customers. The adjustment will be effective on Aug. 1.

You can read the commission release here.

The release reads in part, “The Idaho Public Utilities Commission announced two adjustments today – a base rate increase and an electric and gas supply decrease – and will announce an increase in the company’s energy efficiency rider later this month. The fourth component, the resumption of the Residential Exchange Credit from the Bonneville Power Administration will result in a rate decrease.”

If wholesale natural gas rates continue to decline, we expect natural gas customers will see a significant decrease later this fall. These decreases are likely to more than off-set the small increase announced today.

Learn more about wholesale natural gas prices at Avista’s conversation page.
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Published: 7/17/2009  4:00 PM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

Jul 17 , 2009
If you’ve found this blog – you might be thinking, why is a stodgy old utility hosting a blog? First, that question is very relevant. Secondly, we’re not stodgy. Old, sure, but not stodgy. Since Avista was founded 120 years ago, we’re not really a spring chicken, but that doesn’t mean we’re not with it.

Take for example that the company wants me to promote our blog and talk to all of you on twitter. Twitter is a free service that has taken the Internet and mobile phones by storm over the last year or so. It allows users to follow selected “tweeters” or users and post 140-character messages about just about anything. If you’re not using twitter, you’re not alone and I bet you think it’s weird. Fair enough and I’m not here to convert you.

But if you are using the service, please sign up to follow @Dan_at_Avista. I tweet about our blog posts, interesting happenings at the company and the energy industry. And you might find a little personal info too. I might be a company spokesperson, but the weekends are mine! (Most of the time).

With endless sources of information on the web, it’s tough to know who to trust and what their motivations are. Here’s my motivation – I’ve been with Avista for more than two years. In that short time the world of energy has changed. From smart grid, energy efficiency, renewable energy, cap and trade, natural gas markets and everything in between, it’s hard to keep track. Avista has also been noticeably absent from online engagement, until now. I believe in what we do here – but I also believe that the transparency of actions is key to trust. We want to be your trusted resource.

So, this blog and our efforts on twitter and in discussion forums like The Spokesman-Review’s Huckleberries is one of our ways of continuing a conversation with you. I know you’re out there and you have questions and concerns. Let’s talk about them.

So, to recap: Avista is old, but that’s OK. Sign up to follow me on twitter. Finally, let us be your trusted resource on this blog, and elsewhere and contact me if you have questions. That's why I'm here.

Thanks,

Post By Dan Kolbet
 
Published: 7/17/2009  10:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 17 , 2009
Business owners take notice:  Avista wants to save you some dough and energy. This week we launched Efficiency Avenue, a site about rebates and incentives offered by Avista that can help you save energy. This idea follows the success of Avista’s House of Rebates, targeted toward residential energy efficiency. Both sites, are sections of www.everylittlebit.com where you can see what areas of your home or business are eligible for rebates and download the forms.

At Efficiency Avenue, you can also view case studies that demonstrate how some local businesses have taken advantage of our site specific program to receive rebates and incentives for customized energy efficiency improvements made at their locations. The Spokane Journal of Business wrote a great story about the Efficiency Avenue in this week’s edition of the paper. Check it out here.

Avista’s residential, commercial and industrial energy efficiency programs are working. In 2008 Avista customers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon reduced their energy use by nearly 75 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and over 2.2 million therms of natural gas. Avista provided more than 15,000 rebates and incentives totaling nearly $15 million to residential and commercial customers.

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Published: 7/17/2009  10:16 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 15 , 2009
We’re in the midst of summer and if you’re lucky enough to have some vacation time saved up – now is the perfect time to get away.

We all want to save a buck when taking any type of getaway, but you can also save money at home by reducing your energy usage while you are gone. If you’re not going to be there, why heat your water or keep the A/C running full blast? Does it make sense to leave electric appliances plugged in when you’ll never use them?

Our official word says to turn the DVR off too, but I’ve got to be honest, that’s a stretch for some of us. So, don’t go crazy – if you want to record a TV show while you’re gone, by all means keep the DVR plugged in - it's your call. Also, you might want to put some security lights on timers, too. But for just about everything else, it only makes sense to reduce usage.

Check out more tips listed in this news release sent to the media today. (We’re hoping they pass along the word too.)

If you’ve got any questions about energy efficiency – even very specific ones, drop us a line in the comments section. We can help.

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Published: 7/15/2009  9:15 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 15 , 2009
There’s an interesting article in the Spokesman-Review this morning that you might want to check out. Avista is participating in the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region conference in Boise. One of the key topics discussed yesterday was energy.

The Spokesman quotes Avista Vice President of Sustainable Energy Solutions Roger Woodworth as saying, “We are tremendously blessed with energy resources of all kinds here in the Pacific Northwest region – the question is how will we decide to optimize those.”

Roger’s right and a mix is key. In 2008 Avista’s energy resource mix looked like this:
 
55% Hydro Power
24% Natural Gas
10% Coal
3% Biomass
2% Wind Contracts
6% Other Contracts
 
We’re lucky in this region to have all of these resources available to us. It helps us optimize the least expensive resources for customers. As renewable energy becomes more readily available and in some cases, required by legislation, you’ll see this energy mix – and that of nearly every other utility - change too. It’s an exciting and challenging time in the energy sector to be sure.  

Read, “A picture of potential energy,” the article mentioned above, by Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell.

Post by Dan Kolbet
Published: 7/15/2009  8:25 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 14 , 2009
Below is a link to some pictures of Avista’s proposed wind farm near Reardan, Wash. Avista holds the rights to develop on the site and is in the process of testing it by monitoring weather – wind – patterns to ensure the site is the most efficient possible. We’re still working through a timeline for building this project.

Our system isn’t in need of the electricity this site would create until 2012, but we’re exploring all options to keep construction costs as low as possible. We’re currently developing our 2009 Integrated Resource Plan that further defines our resource mix. You can check out the progress of that plan here.

Wind power is an intermittent resource. It only generates power when the wind blows. Typically a wind facility averages about 1/3 of its capacity. Something to keep in mind when thinking about wind.
 
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
Published: 7/14/2009  11:03 AM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

Jul 13 , 2009
Power outages happen. We don’t want them to happen. Of course you don’t either. The headline of this post is actually pretty silly – “track power outages.” If your power is out, it’s pretty easy to track, right? No lights.
 
Since October of last year we have posted every power outage on our website and updated the number of customers who are without power in near-real time.
 
When we first did this, I recall having some interesting conversations with customers and employees about how useful this tool would actually be with customers. It turns out that while your power is out; you’re probably not browsing the web, for obvious reasons. Yet, cell phones work and many people call friends to check the status of an outage (hopefully after calling 1-800-227-9187) to report it to us. If you’re at work during a storm or want to check on an outage for a loved one, it’s pretty easy to look for outages in your area from a list or map view.
The media also uses this tool to watch for outages. When lightning strikes, heavy snows fall or especially if wind whips through in our service territory, the media looks for outages. During big storms outages often lead the local broadcasts or end up in the newspaper.
 
The tricky part in explaining outages is that currently our website lists “equipment failure” as the cause of nearly every outage. In some sense that is true. If a curious squirrel jumps on a transformer it may open a switch, like a breaker in your house, which turns off the power. If a car hits a utility pole, it might knock a power line down, temporarily cutting power to customers on the other end of the line. If wind snaps a tree branch in half and it goes crashing into the arm of a power pole, breaking an insulator, the power may go out.
 
In each of the instances above, the “equipment failed,” but not because it was faulty or defective. It failed to keep working because an outside force made it stop working. We work to quickly and safely restore power, regardless of the cause.
 
So now you know that “equipment failure” doesn’t usually happen on its own – something has to make it so.
 
 
Have you called Avista about a power outage? How would you rate your experience? Comment below.
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
Published: 7/13/2009  1:51 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 10 , 2009

A utility is a complex business to be sure. It’s filled with data and tiers, massive wires and pipes, environmental impacts, many types of electric generation and whole bunch of other stuff that is sometimes tricky to follow. So in an effort to help us all understand our business better and what we do and why we do it - we’ve created the “Avista Sustainability Report, 2009 Report on Our Performance.”
 
The document, which is presented as a PDF, is a compilation of facts, figures and brief descriptions of many facets of our company. It’s a snapshot in time of Avista and how we operate.
 
How do our business practices impact the environment, the economy and our communities? The sustainability report addresses these questions, based on Global Reporting Initiative an international framework of standards for reporting business performance.
 
We want your input on our business, our practices and ideas for process improvements. We’re waiting to hear from you on this report. To leave a comment, click on the “comments” link below for other customers to see, or send us an e-mail.

Post by Dan Kolbet

Click here to view Avista's Sustainability Report
 
Published: 7/10/2009  10:59 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 09 , 2009
OK, this is the last teaser video this week. In this video, Scott Morris, Avista’s chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, talks about some of the ways that Avista works with customers who might be having trouble paying their bills due to the economy or any other circumstance.
 
Did you know that Avista doesn’t charge interest on your bill if you have a large balance? We’ll work with you to pay it off overtime. Click on the video image below to see Scott talking about this at a Greater Spokane Incorporated event last May.
 
You can see a 30-minute version of Scott’s speech now playing on Spokane’s government access channel, City Cable 5. View the July schedule listed here under, “Leaders & Lectures: Speaking on Spokane.”
 
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
Published: 7/9/2009  10:57 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 08 , 2009
Yesterday we posted the first video of Scott Morris, Avista’s chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, speaking at a Greater Spokane Incorporated event last May. Below is a link to a second video about listening to customers.
 
In this short video Scott talks about what he has heard from customers, and I’m pretty sure you won’t be surprised that customers have said that they are concerned about rising energy prices. They also want fair prices, plus a green and reliable utility. His overall point is that we all want the same thing.
 
The video is just a teaser to a full 30-minute version of the speech now playing on Spokane’s government access channel, City Cable 5. View the July schedule listed here under, “Leaders & Lectures: Speaking on Spokane.”
 
The video below will open in a new window or tab.
 
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
Published: 7/8/2009  4:21 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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