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.