Jul 28 , 2011
General Rate Case increase filed on July 5, but Power Cost Adjustment decrease filed today
 
I’m the first to admit that utility rates are complex and can be confusing.  We may ask the utility commission for an increase in rates to recover certain costs, then ask for a decrease because other costs have declined. 

Learn more about rates
View "Rates in Action" above to learn more about the
current Washington and Idaho general rate case requests,
including what's driving the cost of energy and perceptions
and facts about rates.
Confusing? In a word – yes.

But what you need to know is that your rates are made up of two components – base rates and other tariffs sometimes referred to as true-up tariffs. Base rates recover the company’s investment in generating and delivering energy to customers. True-up tariffs pass through certain costs that have no impact on the company’s earnings. 

Today we asked the Idaho Public Utilities (IPUC) if we can decrease electric prices for our Idaho customers by an overall 5.99 percent because the cost of generating and purchasing power over the past 12 months was less than what is currently included in rates. It’s called a true-up of the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) rate. We asked that, if approved, the new lower rates take effect on October 1.

On July 5, we asked the commission toincrease base electric prices by an overall 3.5 percent primarily to recover costs for continuing systematic upgrades to our electric system – poles, power lines, transformers, substations and generation plants - to ensure reliability and meet customer demand.

A fair question is why didn’t we make the requests at the same time? We filed the General Rate Case increase request on July 5. The IPUC has up to seven months from that date to conduct an extensive review of the request and make a determination. The PCA true-up (filed today), which we’re required by the IPUC to file annually by August 1, is a modified process. That’s why we’ve asked that, if approved, the new lower rates take effect on October 1.

The filings are for two different components of rates and work on different schedules. It’s important to know that both filings are requests because we’re a regulated utility. The IPUC will make a thorough review of both of the requests and make their determinations. As always, we’ll keep you posted here on the Avista blog.
Published: 7/28/2011  3:09 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 28 , 2011
My lame CFL picture. Click to enlarge.
This is my lame CFL picture. I bet you can do better! Send your
photos to
conversation@avistautilities.com, or on Twitter use the
hashtag #AvistaCFLs and include the
@Avistautilities user name.
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
I was just hand-delivered (at my desk) a box of the Avista CFL bulbs. Thousands of these kits are being delivered to Washington customers right now. Avista customers, if you’re in the Evergreen State, you should soon be receiving your CFL kit too. In fact I’ve noticed several folks on Twitter commenting on the kits and I want to see photos!

Here’s what you need to know: The kit contains Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL), a cover letter, educational brochure and turn-it-off stickers. All customers will receive their kits by November 15, 2011. According to my co-worker Chris Drake who is Avista’s Lead Demand Side Management Program Manager, the kits are “a simple and convenient way to help customers lighten their energy load, while helping Avista meet our energy efficiency targets too. Learn more about the kits from our June blog post here.

We’ve also got a webpage at Everylittlebit.com about the kits. Check it out. 

Send us your creative photos!
If you get your kit, I’d love to see how they look in your mailbox – but more importantly – installed in your light fixtures. Send me your groovy pics of CFLs in use and I’ll post them on the blog. Extra bonus points if you can get your smiling face in the pictures too. Be creative and I’ll make you semi-famous on the blog.

Send your photos to conversation@avistautilities.com, or on Twitter use the hashtag #AvistaCFLs and include the @Avistautilities user name.

Let’s see who can be the most creative. Photographers unite!

*Rules (yes, rules): You own your pictures (and CFLs), not us. By sending them our way, you’ve granted Avista permission to use them on this blog with no compensation. There is no reward for taking the picture other than being awesome. We reserve the right to not publish your photos on the blog for any reason. Avista customers only please. Be safe when taking the pictures. E-mail with questions
Published: 7/28/2011  11:32 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 27 , 2011

Spokane River through downtown Spokane

Post by Brandi Smith
 
Click to read newsletter
The Spokane River is one of the most striking and scenic centerpieces of our community. It has a rich cultural history, and provides habitat for fish and other aquatic life as well as an abundance of recreational activities.

At Avista, we work hard to be good stewards of this vital resource as we operate our dams to provide clean, reliable, and cost effective energy to our customers. Today, we sent out the first issue of the Spokane River Newsletter, a quarterly publication that will be distributed to those who are interested in learning more about our activities in and around the Spokane River. The newsletter will not only keep you informed about current news, but it will introduce you to some of the people who take care of our natural resources. Each season, Avista plans to distribute the newsletter to stakeholders, employees, customers and others who sign up for it.

Take a look at the newsletter. We hope you enjoy what you see and welcome your thoughts and story ideas on future Spokane River newsletters.
Published: 7/27/2011  4:05 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 19 , 2011
Post Falls spill gates
The Post Falls Dam spill gates during high water runoff.
Photo courtesy of Avista employee Patty Hanson.
Water levels allow spill gates at Post Falls Dam to be closed
 
Avista is advising Spokane River users that river recreation is now permitted in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boat restraining systems located just upstream of the Post Falls Dam. River flows have dropped sufficiently to allow all of the spill gates at the hydroelectric facility to be closed. 
 
The City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public Monday, July 18. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday. The median date for closing the gates is June 22. This year, cool spring temperatures and a lingering, heavy snowpack caused longer than normal high water flows, which delayed the opening of the boat launch.
 
Avista expects summer operation at the dam to continue through Labor Day, as long as weather conditions allow. River users are cautioned that weather conditions can cause rapid changes in water levels. Please exercise caution when using the waterways.
 
For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, to call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line. In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043. The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check weather and water flow information here.  
 
Published: 7/19/2011  2:06 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 18 , 2011
Post by Dan Kolbet 

Yesterday I was driving home after running some errands with my family when the kids asked if they could play in the sprinklers. It was about 87 degrees outside and I’d just battled Wal-Mart and Costco, so even I was ready for sprinklers! So I said OK and they quickly got into their swimsuits when we got home.

Since my wife and I were still unloading our groceries in the kitchen and the kids really wanted to go outside NOW, we just opened up the back curtains and watched them though the window as we put everything away. As I pulled back the curtains, a blast of heat hit me directly. My little curtains covering our back windows were doing one heck of a good job of blocking out the heat. I have seen all the messages about closing your windows during the day to block the sun and opening the windows at night when it’s cool, but it was never as clear to me as it was yesterday.

About an hour later it was time to watch the U.S. Women’s World Cup game on TV. I made this required viewing for my 6 and 7-year-old girls. I headed down to the basement to turn the game on. My girls come down the stairs in jeans and long-sleeve shirts. “It’s cold down here, dad,” they told me. And indeed it was. While the rest of the house was fighting to stay livable, the basement felt like a snow day. Hot air rises, so the basement was nice and chilly while the bedrooms upstairs were not so great. We watched the game under blankets. (Congrats to Japan by the way, even though I was obviously cheering for the U.S.)

Later that evening my wife opened up the doors and windows because it had cooled off quite a bit outside. We spent part of the evening reading and talking on the front porch, where a slight breeze made it rather comfortable. A nice way to end the day.

So to sum up my findings from yesterday:
 
-Sprinklers are always cool
-Use your curtains wisely
-Don’t be afraid of the basement
-Get outside when it cools off
 
In the Northwest we get maybe two months of hot weather – lately it’s more like one day here and there. Because of our wonderfully inconsistent weather pattern, some of these easy ways to beat the heat may just escape us.  Don’t let the heat beat you – you can always just hide in your basement like me.
 
 
Published: 7/18/2011  4:31 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 05 , 2011
1938 utility pole near Lewiston, Idaho
This pole has been standing since mid-way through
the Roosevelt Administration (circa 1938). It saw a lot 
of action in its day, but it's time to retire it and many
other pieces of aging infrastructure.
Post by Debbie Simock 

Reliability – it’s what you expect as a customer and it’s what we pride ourselves in delivering every day.

To ensure the power you expect, we’re focusing on systematically replacing or upgrading our equipment – the poles, pipe, wires, transformers, substations, equipment and generating facilities needed to safely and reliably deliver power to you. That’s why we’re investing approximately $250 million in our utility equipment in 2011.

The cost of upgrading equipment today is significantly more expensive than the equipment being replaced, some of which has been serving customers for 40 to 70 years. These increased costs are the major driver in the requests we filed today with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to increase electric rates by an overall 3.5  percent and overall 2.8 percent for natural gas. These are the same reasons for the requests we filed on May 16 with the Washington commission.

We’re here to answer your questions and provide information about our energy future. Take a few minutes to watch the short Take a Closer Look at How Rates are Set video. There, you’ll also learn more about What’s Driving the Cost of Energy and the work we’re doing to ensure that you have the reliable energy you expect.
 
 
 
Published: 7/5/2011  2:18 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post