Jun 30 , 2011

Post by Debbie Simock

Starting tomorrow, natural gas rates for our Washington customers will decrease by two percent, or $1.66 a month, as part of the annual true-up of our energy efficiency rebate and incentive programs. You can read more about the decrease in the news release issued today by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on their approval of our request.

As part of our energy efficiency program true-up in Idaho, natural gas and electric customers could also see a decrease in their rates effective August 1, if the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approves our request.

So, why do we provide rebates to help customers use less of our product? Making efficiency improvements is a smart choice that helps customers reduce their energy use and reduce the amount of future energy generation required to meet growing energy needs.

If you want to find out if any of the energy efficiency improvements you’re planning will qualify for an Avista rebate, visit us at www.everylittlebit.com.

Published: 6/30/2011  5:12 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 30 , 2011
 
Today, Avista announced an agreement to purchase power generated by the proposed Palouse Wind project in Whitman County, Wash., beginning in the second half of 2012. What does this mean for you as an Avista customer? Well, it’s really about Avista’s responsibility to balance the costs of new resources with securing enough energy to meet your energy needs, while at the same time satisfying renewable portfolio standards, both in the near and long term.

Avista must comply with renewable portfolio standards (RPS) detailed in Washington’s Energy Independence Act, which was approved by Washington State voters with the passage of Initiative 937 in 2006. The Act requires us to use eligible renewable resources, renewable energy credits, or a combination of both, to meet the following targets: 3% of energy used to meet customer demand by January 1, 2012, 9% by January 1, 2016 and 15% by January 1, 2020.

We’re already meeting the 2012 targets, mostly with upgrades we’ve made at our hydroelectric dams. Those upgrades allow us to generate more energy using the same amount of water, with the additional energy qualifying in Washington as an eligible renewable resource.

The next big deadline will be 2016, and, while it’s still a few years away, we’ve been thinking about it for some time. Over the past few years, we’ve been following the market and looking for potential opportunities to incorporate cost-effective, renewable power. Recent market changes, including lower costs of developing wind power facilities and tax incentives, have made this an excellent time to do that, so in February we put out a request for proposals. Through a competitive bid process, Palouse Wind, which has the added benefit of being located in Avista’s service territory, was selected.

Avista expects to recover the cost of the power purchased from Palouse Wind through retail rates as we would have to recover the cost of any power used to meet demand, but not before that power is generated and delivered to customers. Remember, we’re a regulated utility, which means we can’t recover costs we haven’t incurred, and we must justify any rate increase.

The wind farm is expected be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes. Developers say its location between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 is ideal for capturing the prevailing southwest wind.

Along with the other things Avista’s doing, like upgrading our dams, the renewable power purchased from Palouse Wind is expected to help us meet Washington State RPS goals for 2016, and will also provide a new energy resource for our customers. We think it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
Published: 6/30/2011  2:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 23 , 2011
SNAP video
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Just because it’s not cold outside, doesn’t mean you can ignore your heating bills. SNAP created the video above to remind qualified folks in Spokane County to contact them about heating assistance. It’s a good reminder.
 
Published: 6/23/2011  11:22 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 22 , 2011
2nd slideshow
 
Post & Photos by Dan Kolbet

photo
photo
This morning I stopped by an Avista job site just east of Division in downtown Spokane. Our crews were replacing a section of power line between First and Second avenues at Cowley Street. In order to keep the neighboring homes and businesses with power while the replacement project occurred, they were safely working around live (or hot) power lines.

Our crews attached extenders on the top of the utility poles and moved the live/hot lines to the outer edges. Then they use rope to pull new, higher gauge power lines where the old lines used to sit. At either end of the work are massive spools that release the new wire or collect the rope. They will repeat this process until the entire length of the power line, usually many miles, is replaced.

We often use the term “upgrades,” when we talk about this type of project. Since we’re replacing an old line with a new one, a simple replacement really is an “upgrade” too. If you’re going to replace something, you might as well plan for future needs so you don’t have to come back and upgrade the line again in just a few years.

This small example shows how Avista is ensuring our electric grid has the capacity to meet your needs, when you need it. This is your rate dollars at work.

Check out the slideshow above for more 14 images of Avista crews working for you.
 
Published: 6/22/2011  3:16 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 21 , 2011
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
This morning when I opened my email I got a pretty big, but welcome surprise. Utilities surveyed by E Source, an energy analysis and research firm, named Avista the top utility in social media. Read the press release here. We’re listed alongside some of the largest utilities in the country. I think this recognition really speaks to the success of engaging online with Avista customers. We’re delivering information and conversation in a way that you want. I’m really proud of that.

We’ve been at this social media thing for just over two years and we’ve got a lot to show for it. Earlier this month the Avista Blog celebrated its two year anniversary. We’re talking energy and company news on three Twitter accounts, @Avistautilities, @AvistaCares and @Dan_at_Avista. We’re also publically discussing the issues facing our company and industry through blog and media comments/discussion forums. We’ve produced videos and podcasts that speak to the most pressing concerns of our customers. We’re focused on energy efficiency on the Every Little Bit Facebook page. And we’re constantly talking directly with you through our e-mail Conversation@avistautilities.com

I know a lot of the folks who are running online/social media programs at the utilities recognized on the E Source list below and respect what they are doing with their customers. But I’m not afraid to say that I wouldn’t trade our Avista customers for any of theirs. You all are the reason we started using social media. We’re just following your lead.

Thanks for the last few years and I hope we can continue to deliver social media content that you want. Got ideas, comments? What can we do better or are missing? E-mail us or comment below.

Here’s the news release from E Source.

Top Utilities Using Social Media

-E Source Asked Utilities to Rate Their Peers

BOULDER, CO, June 21, 2011—According to the utilities that participated in the 2011 E Source Utility Social Media Survey, Avista is the top utility when it comes to using social media. To find out how utilities are using social media, E Source conducted its second national social media survey in early 2011. The electric, gas, water, and combination utilities that participated in the survey were asked which utilities they considered to be social media leaders. The top-ranked utilities are:

Investor-Owned Utilities
Avista, Duke, Pepco, Pacific Gas and Electric, American Electric Power Southern Company, Idaho Power, Dominion

Public Utilities
SRP, Memphis Light (Gas and Water Division), Public Service of New Hampshire, Nashville Electric Service, Austin Energy

The survey included questions about social media business drivers, tools, staffing, and governance.

“Hundreds of utilities are now using social media in their communication, marketing, web, and, in some cases, customer service strategies,” says Matthew Burks, senior manager of E Source Mass-Market Services. “The most successful utilities see the long-term implications of this channel and are investing the time, staff, and infrastructure to integrate it into their daily operations.”
Published: 6/21/2011  9:52 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 16 , 2011
Click to enlarge
Post by Brandi Smith 

It’s time to get your clubs ready and hit the links. Avista’s third annual Charity Golf Scramble will be held on Saturday, August 20, 2011 at the Rivers Bend Golf Course in Thompson Falls, Mont.

The four-person scramble tournament will benefit Sanders County senior citizens. The Avista Charity Golf Tournament was created in 2009 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Clark Fork Management Committee and the 50-year anniversary of the Noxon Rapids Hydroelectric Dam. Avista has sponsored the charity golf tournament annually to benefit a local organization. Past beneficiaries include Sanders County Community Housing and the Cancer Network of Sanders County.

Registrations are now being taken for men’s, women’s, and coed teams. The cost is $50 per player and includes 18 holes of golf, lunch provided by the Senior Citizens of Sanders County, the chance to win great team, pin and door prizes as well as the opportunity to participate in a silent auction. Rehbein Ford has once again graciously offered a brand new vehicle as the hole-in-one prize. Additionally, top performing teams in men’s, women’s and coed divisions will win up to $500.

If you would like to attend this fun event to benefit a great cause, please register your team by contacting Avista’s Natural Resource office at (406) 847-1285 by August 1. We hope to see you on the links.
Published: 6/16/2011  10:53 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 15 , 2011
Click to view our 2011 Shared Value Report
Post by Jessie Wuerst

The world – literally – has been buzzing the past few years about sustainability. But what does it really mean in terms of how a company operates? And who cares? Well, we care. And judging from the questions we often get, we think our customers and others care too.

We talked about sustainability last year about this time as we launched our 2010 report on our sustainable business performance. In that report we shared information about how Avista’s operations impact the three legs of the sustainability stool: the economy, the environment and society.

We haven’t lost that momentum. We’ve built on it. This year’s report has a fresh perspective that we hope will give you an even better picture of what we do and why. In the 2011 report, we’re talking about how our sustainable business practices build shared value for our stakeholders as well as our company in three areas of focus: customer experiences, responsible resources and environmental stewardship.

Let me give you an example. In 2010 Avista completed installation of new, computerized spillway gates at the Nine Mile Dam, just downstream from downtown Spokane. The new system replaces our old wooden flashboard process, which had been in use since 1928. A series of community meetings engaged customers and property owners in the project, and our staff listened closely to their concerns about shorelines, water levels and wildlife, and partnered with them to achieve acceptable outcomes for all parties. The new spillway helps improve Avista’s coordination of the operation all of our Spokane River dams and allows us to operate more efficiently. At the same time we are more responsive to the needs of the community in protecting habitat and working with recreationists to improve angling and boating experiences. A win-win for all concerned.

Avista’s “Building Shared Value for a Shared Future” the 2011 corporate responsibility report is published online at avistautilities.com (key word search: shared value). We hope you’ll take a few minutes to look through the report and then click the Feedback tab to share your comments.
 
Published: 6/15/2011  4:55 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 10 , 2011
Do the safe thing and call us to verify any representatives

Post by Dan Kolbet 
 
This morning we sent out the following e-mail to customers in and around Spokane County concerning scams and misrepresentations. This action follows complaints we’ve received from customers and two television news stories this week about insulation sales representatives making calls in the Spokane area.
 
Good tips to follow if you or someone you know is considering home improvement projects:

• Be aware of aggressive sales tactics.
• It’s always a good idea to get multiple bids from contractors.
• Before signing an agreement with an insulation contractor, check their Better Business Bureau rating and verify that the contractor is licensed and bonded in the state where the work is to be done.
• Work must be completed before submitting an Avista rebate application.

Here’s the e-mail:

Dear Avista Utilities Customer,

Due to circumstances that may be happening in your neighborhood we are reaching out to you with this e-mail. Avista has standard business practices to help keep you safe from scams or misrepresentations. Your trust is important to us, and we want you to be informed.

Avista does not partner with any business that goes door-to-door through neighborhoods selling attic insulation or other services, except for its Home Energy Audit contractors in Spokane County who wear Avista identification badges.  Avista does not recommend any business to customers. We do offer a number of energy efficiency rebates and incentives, but we work directly with you, our customer, on those programs.

Our field employees always wear an Avista photo identification badge and often wear Avista apparel and drive clearly marked Avista vehicles. Employees typically do not need access to a home or business unless the customer has contacted us about a specific problem or program. Also, employees do not phone or e-mail customers asking for confidential information.

If you are contacted by someone representing themselves as Avista, you can call us any time at (800) 227-9187 to verify the identification of an employee and the purpose of the contact with you. You can also contact us at www.avistautilities.com for additional information.

Thank you,
Avista Utilities
Published: 6/10/2011  9:16 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 07 , 2011
1920 image
2003 image
The photo on the left is of group of children touring one of our hydro facilities, Long Lake Dam (circa 1920).
The photo above right is a snapshot of Stevens Elementary sixth graders touring the dam in 2003.
 
Post by Sarah Hilbert 

We are Avista - the same reliable company we've always been. For well over a century (since 1889 to be exact), we've built a legacy of dependable service and engagement in the communities we serve. To help illustrate that, we’ve gone deep into our photo archive to uncover some snapshots of our history.
 
Today we feature one of our generating facilities which sits on the Spokane River approximately 30 miles northwest of Spokane, Long Lake Dam.
 
The photo above left is of group of children touring one of our hydro facilities, Long Lake Dam (circa 1920).
 
The photo above right is a snapshot of Stevens Elementary sixth graders touring Long Lake Dam in 2003. Both photos were featured in Avista’s 2003 Annual Report. These students would be in their second or third year of college today.
Legacy matters. We’ve put together a website that details Avista’s history, check out: www.AvistaLegacy.com
 
Then and now facts
When it was completed in 1915, Long Lake was "the world's highest spillway dam." Its turbines were also the largest (both in size and capacity) of any in existence at the time.
 
Today, the Long Lake development (HED) is capable of meeting the average energy needs of almost 35,000 households.
Published: 6/7/2011  9:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 06 , 2011
Mobile website image
Mobile website image
Mobile web image
 
Post by Debbie Simock
 
A few months ago I got a smart phone, and now I wonder how I ever got along without it. I’m only using a fraction of its capabilities from what my co-workers tell me. But one thing I can easily do now is report and track outages and access my Avista account information using Avista’s new mobile website. All I have to do is go to www.avistautilities.com from my smart phone and I’m automatically redirected to the mobile website, or I can click on the mobile link at the bottom of the avistautilities.com website. How easy is that?

Using feedback from smart phone users, Avista developed the new mobile website focusing on functions that are most important to them. So, if you’re an Avista customer in addition to reporting and tracking outages, you can use your smart phone to sign onto your account to view and pay your current bill, learn about payment options and make payment arrangements, among other actions. You also have the option of linking to Avista’s full website.

Check out our new mobile website and let us know what you think. You can share your thoughts below in the comments section or through Twitter, use the hashtag: #AvistaMobile
 
View mobile site now: It'll look pretty funky on your computer browser, but sweet on your phone.
Published: 6/6/2011  2:35 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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