Jan 08 , 2010
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
This weekend you might see a flier in your local newspaper from Avista. The Resource Guide to Assistance Programs will be placed inside nearly all major newspapers in our service territory starting this weekend, with weekly newspapers to follow. This insert marks the launch of a special push to share information about bill assistance with customers.

The two-sided, color insert’s goal is to help you learn about your options regarding bill assistance and direct you to back to our website to take action or learn more information about your bill. This weekend we’ll be launching some new website pages that will provide some great information. Just visit the homepage at www.avistautilities.com this weekend to find the link.

“Many of our customers are not aware of the resources available to them,” said Dana Anderson, marketing manager.  “In a lot of cases, customers have not needed to ask for help before and they don’t know where to start.”

We have options available to fit many unique scenarios. From signing up for payment arrangements to requesting a change in a bill due date, the options are wide-ranging. Also highlighted are energy assistance grants, such as Project Share and Senior Assistance for those 60 and over.

I’ll be writing a few blog posts over the next few weeks about bill assistance and the options available for customers. In the meantime, visit the homepage this weekend or drop me an e-mail with questions.
Published: 1/8/2010  9:31 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 07 , 2010
Watch "Avista and Social Media"
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Yesterday we released a video for Avista employees about our use of social media for customers (yes, you). Now, if you’re reading this blog you probably already know all about social media and that’s awesome, but you’re really in the minority. There are many different levels of understanding with social media - from just knowing what the different tools are to actually being comfortable and able to utilize them.

While Avista is very progressive in social media for a utility, that doesn’t mean that everyone understands social media – and that’s OK. What’s a tweet or social network?  What does a blogger do? How is this good for Avista customers? All reasonable questions.

The video is titled, “Avista and Social Media.” Sure, the title’s not too catchy, but it briefly explains the most popular social media tools (blogs, Twitter, discussion forums and social networks) and how we’re using them to talk with all of you. I created the video with assistance from Communications Manger Jessie Wuerst and Director of Corporate Communications Linda Jones.

Now remember, the video was created for Avista employees to understand how we’re reaching out to customers online. So, if it seems like it isn’t directed at you, like our other videos, you know why.

If you’ve got questions or comments, drop me a note in the comment section.
Published: 1/7/2010  7:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 06 , 2010
Workers help banding on osprey.
Avista workers help collect
ospreys for banding as part
of a restoration project.
Post by Anna Scarlett

Recently, the Avista Foundation donated $2,500 to Birds of Prey Northwest for the construction of an eagle flight cage at the organization’s raptor rehabilitation facility near St. Maries, Idaho. In a few months, Avista employees led by Bob Beitz, Operations Manager for St. Maries and Kellogg, will set the poles and help build the flight cage.

It’s not the first time Avista has worked with Birds of Prey Northwest and its president/founder, Janie Fink. In fact, Fink has partnered with our own line workers in the protection and rescue of raptors.

“Several years ago we reached out to Jane to help us with problems we’d been having with osprey on our lines,” Beitz said.

Fink initially educated employees on raptors, and from there, the relationship continued. On several occasions, our St. Maries and Kellogg line crews have assisted her in collecting and banding baby ospreys as part of an osprey restoration program she leads.

This fall, Fink approached Beitz, who serves on the Avista Foundation Board of Directors, about a donation to Birds of Prey Northwest to update the rehab facility. An injured bird must go through physical therapy to treat its injury and build strength and flexibility for its return to the wild; this therapy includes flight exercise and flight tests. But the current aviary used for the flight exercise is too small for an eagle’s large wingspan, which can reach up to 8 feet wide for an adult.

Avista gave Birds of Prey Northwest $2,500, which, along with a pole donation from McFarland Cascade, will help Fink get the supplies to build the new cage. The flight cage will accommodate the largest raptor she cares for, but will be used to exercise all the birds.

Injured bird now Avista’s namesake
Meet "Avista"
Avista is a juvenile American
bald eagle with a damaged
wing.
During the grant process, Beitz visited the rehab facility, and as Fink was walking him through, a young American bald eagle drew their attention. The eagle, an adolescent that hasn’t matured enough to get its yellow-beak and white head, has a bad wing and can’t fly – it will be a permanent resident of the facility. Fink mentioned she hadn’t yet named the eagle.

Beitz suggested “Avista.”

“She looked at me and said ‘I think there was a reason we were waiting to name this eagle,’” he said.

So the young raptor became Avista. Avista joins Beauty, a bald eagle that lost her upper beak after she was shot by a poacher in Alaska, and who has since been fitted with a prosthetic beak so she can eat and preen, as well as various owls, hawks, falcons and ospreys either living at or being rehabilitated at the facility.

While her rehab facility is not open to the public, Fink, a raptor biologist and falconer, is currently seeking funding to build the Northwest Birds of Prey Center, a public education and raptor rehab center that will be located near Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Published: 1/6/2010  9:56 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 05 , 2010
Avista Housewarming Gift Certificate
Post by Sarah Hilbert
 
The holidays may be over however, the heating bills are not. More and more people are finding value in giving the gift of energy during these challenging times. Last month, Avista sold $18,908 in gift certificates compared to December 2008’s figure of $10,850.
 
Because need doesn’t know a season, the gift certificates are available year-round.
 
Avista’s Housewarming Gift Certificates can be ordered here. Available in any denomination and with no expiration date, a Housewarming Gift Certificate can be given to a customer who applies it toward their Avista energy bill as a credit. You don’t have to be a customer to order an Avista Housewarming Gift Certificate for someone, or even a business.
 
More information on the Avista Housewarming Gift Certificate and an order form are available here.
Published: 1/5/2010  4:12 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 04 , 2010
Post by Dan Kolbet

The end of winter break might mean an end to higher energy usage for your home. Here’s a story one of my colleagues told me last winter (an Avista employee, mind you).

He arrived home during winter vacation after work. The house was lit up like a beacon in the night – not because of holiday decorations, but because every light in the house was on. The door from the garage to the house wasn’t closed tight and the winter chill was blowing in.

Upon entering the house, he finds his kids (home for winter vacation) in full-relax mode – sprawled out by the gas fireplace or room’s heat source in shorts and T-Shirts. You’ve probably seen this yourself. One kid has the TV on and every overhead light and lamp on in one room, but isn’t watching the TV. A handheld videogame, mobile phone or even a book is occupying his attention.

My co-worker continues to walk through the house, flipping off lights as he goes and encouraging his family members to put warm clothes on, rather than summer attire. He adjusts the thermostat back down to a reasonable temperature and starts dinner.

Sound familiar?

The fixes are easy and as this little story tell us, can be done quickly. But what about the rest of the day when you’re not around to police your home’s energy usage? Try as you might, the simple lessons about keeping your sweater on and hands off the thermostat, doesn’t always stick. That’s winter vacation for you.

Another culprit of higher winter energy usage around the holiday season is house guests. Gotta love ‘em, but you’ve certainly got less control over their use of your hot water (showers, baths, more dishes and clothes to wash), trips outside bringing in cold air through the open door and of course the battle over the thermostat.

Even short stays can use a great deal of energy. You’ve got lights up for decorations. The oven is on for hours of cooking or reheating your family’s favorite entrees and snacks. And there are those dishes to be washed and outside doors left open.

So, what’s the magical solution? Sorry, it’s no secret, just commonsense. Winter will always bring higher energy usage. Your systems work harder to work effectively when it’s colder. Even when you keep the thermostat at 68; that 68 degrees is harder to achieve when it’s freezing outside. It’s dark early in the day, so lights need to be on longer. More people in the house means more energy is being used.

The commonsense part comes with knowing where the energy is going and who is using it. You’re unlikely to avoid increased energy usage with guests – but you can try, just be subtle. In the case of the kids home from college, relate the costs to them – you’d be surprised about how much they already know about budgeting.

When it comes to budgeting, Avista has you covered. While the peaks of energy use for you might happen in the winter, it doesn’t have to take a bite out of your holiday budget. By signing up for Comfort Level Billing you can smooth out the highs and lows of your energy usage into one level, monthly payment and we don’t charge you interest to hold the balance. If your credit ever goes over a certain amount, we’ll send you a check back. It’s as easy as that.

Keeping your family on the energy straight-and-narrow is an ongoing battle, but budgeting and knowing the costs will help you win in the end. 

Click here for more energy efficiency tips.
Published: 1/4/2010  10:00 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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