Aug 13 , 2009
I caught an interesting tidbit of information in Avista’s EnergySolutions newsletter that I thought was worth sharing. The article, when you get right down to it, is asking if you have extra personal appliances running at your desk or work space that might be off-setting your company or building’s energy efficiency efforts. Check out the article here.

Personally, I’ve got one bad check mark on the list - a little fan, so nobody’s perfect. I’ve also got a dock for my iPod, but it’s only plugged in when my device is dead, so I’m not counting that. I’m not using a toaster oven, microwave, space heater or mini-fridge at my desk, so I’m feeling pretty OK about my energy consumption while at work. Who has a toaster at their desks anyway? Weird.

Yet apparently, there are people out there creating mini-hotel suites at their desks that are certainly making an impact on a company’s utility bill. We’re pretty efficient at Avista – you know, that whole walk the talk thing – so very large groups of people (or an entire floor or office) share appliances – no metropolis of toasters or microwaves. How is your company doing?

As energy costs rise, companies will undoubtedly try to save energy in every possible place, including your desk – so be smart about your usage. The best advice is to unplug items when they aren’t in use and be conservative about what you use and also share appliances with others when possible. Read more about office energy usage here. Toast anyone?

 
Published: 8/13/2009  9:32 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 11 , 2009
Unless you’re really, really into digging holes, you might not be aware that today is National 811 Call Before You Dig Awareness Day. Take note, today is 08-11, pretty tricky, huh?

The “call before you dig” idea is that if you are planting trees or shrubs, or installing a fence, mailbox post, deck footing, or sprinkler system, one dig with a shovel or backhoe could strike a buried natural gas or electric line. Simply put, that’s bad and dangerous. Every digging project, big or small should begin two days prior with a call to 811, so a professional locator can come out to your property and locate your underground utility lines so you can avoid them when you dig.

Each year more than 250,000 unintentional dig-ins occur. If you don’t want to be a statistic, call 811 two days before you dig.

You can get all the details regarding Avista’s call before you dig practices on our website. Or just call 811, to get the ball rolling.
 
Published: 8/11/2009  2:05 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 10 , 2009
The Spokane Indians and Avista are teaming up for the remainder of the 2009 season for the Avista Energy Efficiency Home Makeover promotion. The promotion runs August 12-28 and fans can enter to win more than $10,000 in prizes at every Indians home game.

The grand prize winner of a $4,000 home energy makeover will be announced on Saturday, Sept. 5. A home energy audit, a $500 value, will be given way to 10 fans, one from each game in August. Avista will also give out 100 home energy efficiency kits over the course of the promotion.

So, what’s an energy efficiency audit like? Winners of energy efficiency audits will have the energy efficiency and consumption of their home tested by a qualified professional. Audits will identify home energy improvements and upgrades required to help lower energy bills. It’s all about saving money and energy.

Check out the Indian’s schedule of games at Avista Stadium so you can enter to win if you go. Visit www.spokaneindiansbaseball.com.
 
Find out more about energy efficiency, plus rebates and incentives at Avista's www.everylittlebit.com.

CONTEST RULES: You may enter to win at Avista Stadium between August 12 and August 31, 2009 at any Spokane Indians home game. One entry per homeowner per game. You must be an Avista Residential Customer in good standing. Avista employees and immediate family members are not eligible to win. Spokane Indians full time staff and immediate family members are not eligible to win. The Grand Prize Winner will be announced at the September 5th Spokane Indians home game. Contestants do not need to be present to win. Energy Efficiency Kits and the Home Energy Audit certificates will be mailed to the winners within 4-6 weeks. If the winning customer does not own the property, then the measures installed or performed would only include non-permanent items such as CFLs and weather stripping. Rental home customers would be required to obtain written approval from the property owner before permanent measures could be installed or performed. Prizes have no cash value. A list of the winners can be requested by writing to: HEE Winners List, Avista Utilities MSC-15, Spokane, WA 99220.
Published: 8/10/2009  8:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 07 , 2009
A little follow up from the Waterpower 2009 conference that was held in Spokane late last month. The folks at PennWell/Hydro Review who put the conference on, recorded a few of the sessions and I wanted to provide you the link.

Of particular note for Avista customers is the opening plenary session that featured Avista’s Chairman, President and CEO Scott Morris and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Philip D. Moeller.

Morris opened the session and welcomed hydropower industry experts to Spokane – and even urged them to visit our local shops and businesses during their stay (which I hear they did in abundance). Morris also noted Avista’s commitment to the environment, how the demand for electricity is growing in our area, and how “we must engage our customers as partners in managing their energy usage while making decisions on how to generate power to serve that demand with little impact to our planet.”

Commissioner Moeller, who grew up in the Spokane area also had some interesting words for attendees. “The world won’t get to where it wants to go on carbon emissions without hydro power.” He also urged the industry to be, “No more Mr. Nice Guy,” and take the lead on energy policy and climate change.

Check out the video of the opening plenary session here

Any thoughts on Avista helping host such a large conference in Spokane? Drop us a comment
Published: 8/7/2009  10:59 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 06 , 2009
The Coeur d’Alene Press ran a good story today about floating on the Spokane River. They even got in some safety messages from one of my co-workers, Anna Scarlett. Seeing as we’ve been hitting the 90s for about two weeks now, hanging out on the shores of the river or floating down on a tube seems really, really enticing. I saw some kids splashing around the shore earlier this week, just off the Centennial Trail – not a care in the world and not a parent to be found either.

Don’t let the cool water fool you. A quick dip isn’t worth injuring yourself and playing or floating upstream of a dam is a big no-no. So, for you parents out there, take note of these safety tips and make sure your kids (and you), know the rules. Read Safety Around Dams from the Avista Utilities website.

Shutting off the falls
You might have also heard in the news yesterday that we shut off the flow of water at the Monroe Street Dam to aid fire and law enforcement officials in searching the area for a potential swimmer in danger. The water was slowed for just a few hours and word is that searchers came up empty, which in this case was probably a good thing. Read the Spokesman-Review story here. You’ll need a Spokesman login to read the whole thing.

Links
Read Safety Around Dams from the Avista Utilities website.
 
Read the Coeur d’Alene Press story, “Lazy River,” by reporter Rick Thomas.
 
Read the Spokesman-Review story, “River scare stalls traffic,” by Thomas Clouse. You’ll need a Spokesman login to read the whole thing.
Published: 8/6/2009  9:01 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 04 , 2009
Yesterday we announced that Avista has applied for federal funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for the first of two smart grid electric distribution projects. Read yesterday’s blog post here. This means we’re working to lay the groundwork for smart grid’s technological advances in the future while making our electric distribution system more efficient and reliable today.

In the last post I promised to provide a few details about this first project. Here goes. We’re calling the Spokane smart grid project, Smart Circuits. In a nutshell, the project would dramatically upgrade electric distribution lines, known as “feeders” in the Spokane area. To understand how this work qualifies as “smart grid,” a little Electric Grid 101 is in order.

Let’s consider efficiency first. When electricity is made at a dam or wind turbine, it doesn’t go directly to your house. It twists and turns through transmission lines (big ones), into substations and then distribution lines (littler ones) and eventually to you. Electricity could travel hundreds of miles. During this marathon run, some of its energy is lost. This project would reduce losses – saving ratepayer dollars. It would also reduce carbon emissions by about 15,000 tons per year. This reduction is based on less electricity needing to be produced for the same electric demand.

Now let’s think of reliability. For simplicity sake, assume that if a tree falls on the power line that feeds your neighborhood, everyone who gets power through that line, loses power. We send out a crew to fix it and your lights get turned back on. This might take a few hours, depending on your location and the severity of the damage to the line. Many people are impacted from one small incident on the line.

Now imagine if the power lines were smart enough to know where that tree fell and the system could isolate the issue, and leave most, if not all, of your neighborhood’s power on. The system could do this in seconds. This would be a much better solution for everyone. By installing sensors, capacitors, automatic switches and replacing aging equipment like transformers, this scenario is possible.

Why it’s really smart now
While there are many companies currently researching and developing new technologies that will allow energy users (you) to have more active participation with energy providers (us), through the grid – mass implementation is years out for sure. You can’t just stick a new device in your house and expect to become part of the smart grid. Your utility needs to ensure the grid is equipped with technology and communication equipment to make it happen. Getting our grid ready today means we’ll be ready when future smart grid interactions become reality.

We’ll continue to update the blog about smart grid issues as news breaks, but if you have any questions in the meantime, submit a comment below.
 
Published: 8/4/2009  8:54 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 03 , 2009
There’s been a lot of talk recently about smart grid. It’s a buzz word on TV and the Internet that doesn’t really have a clear definition for most people. In general, having a smart electric grid means using technology to enhance the flow of energy and information while increasing reliability, efficiency and decreasing costs.

What it could mean in the future is anyone’s guess, but Avista is looking to lead the way by utilizing technology that we’re already experts on, that will provide the framework for future “smart grid” enhancements.  Just today, we applied for federal funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for the first of two smart grid electric distribution projects. Read the news release.

We’ve requested $20 million, but have committed to investing $22 million in matching funds to ensure a successful project. Leveraging the stimulus money will result in reduced pressure on customer rates; making costs lower than they would have been without stimulus funding.

We expect to hear back on our application in October. The Smart Grid Investment Grant Program (SGIG) is administered by the Department of Energy.

The reality of today’s announcement is that while smart grid has unlimited potential for technological advances into the future, the prudent thing for Avista and our customers today is to be prepared for all future possibilities. This project lays that groundwork while making our electric distribution system more efficient and reliable today.

We’ll put a post up tomorrow with a few more details on the first project we’ve requested funds for.
Published: 8/3/2009  12:50 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 03 , 2009
On Friday I received an e-mail from Robert, an Avista customer, who asked this: “We are putting new windows in our home and we are wondering if there is rebate/rate benefits for certain type windows. If so what do we do?”

Answer: We make it pretty easy to find what rebates are available for you on our website www.everylittlebit.com. Just click on the House of Rebates. You’ll see a graphic of a house with little red circles on it. Click on the circles – the one for windows is on the front window of the house – to get details on rebates on that area of your home. Rebates and incentives are listed by state, so make sure you’re looking at the appropriate one.

Commercial customers can also find rebates and incentives on www.everylittlebit.com, but should click on Efficiency Avenue.

It’s a good idea to check out the rebate forms before you make a purchase. We have certain standards for efficiency for just about everything. You wouldn’t want to buy an item expecting a rebate, only to find out it doesn’t qualify for the program. Make sure to save your receipts too, as you’ll need them when you send in your rebate form.

Some professional contractors or retail stores may have the rebate details concerning their products, but just to be safe, do your homework on www.everylittlebit.com first to be an informed shopper to get the best deal.

Good luck and happy, efficient shopping.
 
Published: 8/3/2009  10:04 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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