Jan 30 , 2012
Avista adds 10 compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks to its fleet
New CNG truck
Meter readers learning how to fuel a CNG truck.
Meter readers learn how to fill the tank with CNG at
the fill station in the service area on the Avista
Mission Campus.
 
CNG – compressed natural gas – is not the natural gas that can heat your home or cook your food. It’s a safe, clean-burning, cost-effective fuel for fleet vehicles. Avista has purchased 10 replacement Chevrolet Silverado half-ton pick-up trucks that run on CNG; seven of those will be allocated to meter readers in Spokane, two to the Spokane line dock and one will stay with Fleet operations. In addition to the CNG tank, the trucks have a 20 gallon gasoline tank, as back-up fuel.

Avista experimented with CNG-powered vehicles about 30 years ago, when the technology for CNG-powered vehicles was in its infancy. Today, the computerized systems within a CNG vehicle make it as easy to operate as a standard gasoline-powered truck. And in keeping with our commitment to environmental stewardship, CNG is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline or diesel, so it’s better for the air we breathe. It also helps our country become less dependent on foreign oil, because all of our natural gas supply is produced in North America. 

“We’re rolling out CNG vehicles slowly so we can get a good idea how they perform for the kinds of work we do” said Chris Schlothauer, Fleet Manager for Avista. “They seem to operate best on route-type travel, like that which our meter readers drive every day – out from a base, with many stops along the way and then return to the garage.”

“We’ll look at how these trucks perform before we make decisions about expanding the fuel for use in other Avista fleet vehicles. We’re also deciding if and how we might offer CNG to other area businesses as they convert their fleet vehicles to use CNG fuel,” said Ken Boni, Avista strategic initiatives manager.

The trucks have a range of about 250 miles using CNG, averaging 11 to 13 miles per gasoline equivalent gallon, approximately the same as a gasoline-powered truck. And the cost savings from cheaper CNG fuel prices makes these vehicles cost-efficient as well. Typically a CNG gas gallon equivalent costs about $2 less than gasoline at the pump.

Filling up the new trucks is similar to filling up with gasoline – a nozzle is placed in the receptacle on the truck, but instead of hearing the liquid fuel go into the tank, the hiss of natural gas is heard as the tank fills with the gaseous fuel and is measured in pounds per square inch rather than gallons. Plans call for updating the Avista’s CNG fueling stations in Spokane at Mission Avenue and Dollar Road, as well as in Klamath Falls and Coeur d’Alene to replace aging equipment and accommodate new fast-fueling technology.

So when you think about natural gas, look beyond your furnace or your stove. Look out your window and perhaps you’ll see one of Avista’s new CNG-powered fleet vehicles drive by, keeping costs low and the air cleaner.
Published: 1/30/2012  10:44 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 23 , 2012

Moscow Pullman Daily News editorial says it all

Post by Brandi Smith

Below is an excerpt from a Moscow Pullman Daily News editorial published on Saturday, Jan. 21. We want to share it with you because we take great pride in serving our customers as quickly as possible. Whether it’s in the midst of a storm or just a normal day, you can always count on the people who work at Avista to respond quickly and efficiently no matter what the weather does. 

With snow, ice, power outages, remember to say ‘thanks’

Written by Lee Rozen/M-P Daily News

Odd that a snow and ice storm, downed trees and power failures can get us feeling thankful.

Living here on the Palouse gives us a lot to be thankful for.

But we think the quick response and fast recovery from the chaos of Thursday night and Friday morning deserves extra thanks.

In some places with privately owned power companies, the response might still be getting organized. But Thursday night, we were glad for every dollar we pay Avista in our monthly power bill. As the deluge of ice and snow brought down trees and branches on power lines and caused transformers to explode, Avista moved quickly and efficiently to repair the damage or route around it. And then do it again. And again. (continued/login required.)

A login to the Moscow Pullman Daily News website is required
to view the whole story here.

Published: 1/23/2012  11:34 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 20 , 2012
Events are free and provide ideas and demos to keep warm air in and cold air out
 

Energy fair
energy fair
Each year our customers ask for help in managing their energy use and costs during the winter. Well, there’s an easy – and free – answer to your request. For the second year Avista is hosting Energy Fairs in select communities in our service area. The next fairs are planned for Coeur d’Alene on Jan. 28 from 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Lake City Center, 1916 N. Lakewood Drive and in Spokane on Feb. 8, from 3 - 6 p.m. at the Northeast Community Center, 4001 Cook St.

The energy fairs offer a broad range of ideas and demonstrations that will help residents keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside their homes. They’re also a great way for customers to conveniently access Avista’s many services, as well as valuable community resources. Information about payment options, energy assistance and energy efficiency will be especially helpful to those struggling to pay their bills.

Fair attendees can speak with Avista staff and learn first-hand about low-cost and no-cost energy efficiency tips. They’ll see how to install such things as rope caulk, window plastic and door sweeps. And following each demonstration, Avista employees will answer questions and provide free samples of each item used in the demonstration. And we’ll have community agencies there, as well, that will provide helpful information about weatherization programs, budgeting and free tax preparation services, safety and independence resources for seniors, job search programs and more.

For the kids, and the kids at heart, Wattson, Avista’s Energy Watchdog, will guide attendees through fun, energy-focused crafts and presentations of his musical message of energy efficiency and safety. Free admission to the event includes all demonstrations, free samples of energy efficiency materials, complimentary food and beverages, and door prizes. Read more about the upcoming energy fair.
 
Published: 1/20/2012  4:00 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 19 , 2012

Crew photo

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
We just released six contractor (Asplundh) tree-trimming crews to help Puget Sound Energy clean up after their major winter storm issues on the West side of Washington.
 
It's a mutal aid agreement. If/when Avista needs assistance, PSE would send help our way too. Stay safe and best of luck to all the crews working in these terrible weather conditions.
 
The image to the right shows an electric line crew at work yesterday, not a tree-trimming crew.
 
UPDATE at 3:45: We just released another six electric line crews (International Line Builders) to help in the Olympia area. The previous crews we sent West were tree-trimming crews, but these are full line crews that can do repairs. Best of luck to them.
 
Published: 1/19/2012  1:24 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 18 , 2012
Slideshow
 
Youtube Video
An Avista electric crew spent a few hours today replacing a utility pole at our Beacon Substation in East Spokane. The original pole caught fire this morning, the exact cause was undetermined. The crew dug through roughly a foot of frost and frozen dirt around the pole before it could be removed. The new pole was placed in the same location as the original. The power lines were temporarily affixed to a nearby pole before being installed permanently on the new pole.

At 11 a.m., temperatures where hovering around 25 degrees with blowing snow at the job site. According to crew members the cold isn’t an issue, they are used to that. The trouble with snow is when they set down a piece of equipment to prep it for installation - the snow buries it in just minutes.

Preparing for an outage
Avista crews are prepared to work in any weather condition to restore your power as quickly and safely as possible. As the snow piles up around our service territory, we expect outages. You can count on Avista to get the lights back on right away, but it’s always best to be prepared at home. Check out these winter weather tips to keep in mind.
Published: 1/18/2012  2:22 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 18 , 2012
Highlighting community agencies in our service territory
 

SNAP
Avista is proud to partner with many community agencies throughout our service territory that provide services for those most in need. We thought you might like to get better acquainted with our partners, so each quarter we will highlight one agency and the valuable work they are doing to serve our neighbors.

As Spokane County’s community action agency, SNAP is best known for its Heating Assistance program, which Avista supports in many important ways. But SNAP’s services go way beyond that.

Did you know?
SNAP helps create businesses – and jobs – in Spokane
SNAP Financial Access provides small business loans and business education for low- to moderate-income residents.

Lai Len became an entrepreneur just a year after arriving in Spokane from a refugee camp in Malaysia. He enrolled in SNAP Financial Access’s Individual Development Account program and in a year saved enough money to buy a janitorial franchise. “I used to work three jobs,” he said. “I only have to work two now.”

SNAP connects people in crisis or transition
SNAP’s Community Voice Mail program provides a free, 24-hour voicemail number that helps people connect with jobs, housing and other vital resources.

With only the clothes on his back and a past that included jail time and a chunk of unpaid debt, Jerry turned to SNAP. In addition to helping Jerry with housing, heating assistance and money management, SNAP provided him with Community Voice Mail until he could afford a phone of his own. “I was amazed at the amount of programs within SNAP,” he said. “I felt like they provided the light at the end of the tunnel.”

SNAP provides housing to hundreds of families and teaches them how to keep it
Katie
SNAP helped Katie through a
difficult time in her life.
SNAP offers homeless prevention assistance, shelter housing and transitional housing, with a goal to help people become stable and self-sufficient.

Katie was five months pregnant, without a job, taking a full load of college classes, and in need of a safe, secure place to live. She called SNAP, and with help from one of our caseworkers, Katie set goals for her future, took classes in budgeting and learned about renters’ rights. About a month before her son was born, Katie qualified for a beautiful two-bedroom apartment. She continued to work with SNAP and eventually took over the lease. “I will never be homeless again,” Katie said, “because SNAP gave me the tools to be successful for the rest of my life.”

SNAP does a lot for low-income residents of Spokane County. Last year, the organization helped nearly 50,000 people through more than 30 community-based programs. If you or someone you know is in need, give SNAP a call at 456-7111 or visit SNAP online.
Published: 1/18/2012  9:06 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 18 , 2012
H95
 
Video by Dan Kolbet
 
If you’ve traveled along Highway 95 in North Idaho by Silverwood recently, you may have seen Avista natural gas crews working alongside 6 miles of the busy highway. The Idaho Department of Transportation is reconstructing a portion of Highway 95 from approximately Chilco to Athol. 

Avista has to move its existing pipeline and is expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 3 to 6 inches. Expanded capacity helps serve existing customer needs and helps prepare infrastructure for the future. The estimated cost for this project is around $1.4 million. Part of Avista's requests for customer rate adjustments typically includes infrastructure work like this project.
 
Check out the video which was shot in early January 2012. Learn more about the project and view pictures here.

 
Published: 1/18/2012  8:19 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 17 , 2012
Avista employees at MLK Day Unity March in Spokane

Photo by Brandi Smith
 
A few dozen employees turned out for the Unity March in downtown Spokane on Monday, Jan. 16 in honor of diversity and to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event was well attended with thousands of people from diverse backgrounds gathering to show their support. Avista contributed to the community event by not only showing our support in numbers, but by sponsoring the keynote speaker, Rev. Stephen J. Thurston, president of the National Baptist Convention of America.
Published: 1/17/2012  8:55 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 16 , 2012
Impacted: Energy Star dishwashers, clothes washers and fireplace dampers in Wash./Idaho
 
Example form
If your energy efficiency improvements for 2012 include buying an Energy Star dishwasher or clothes washer or installing a fireplace damper insert, make sure to submit your Avista energy efficiency rebate form by March 30, 2012. After that date, the rebate for an Energy Star clothes washer will be reduced to $25 and rebates for a fireplace damper insert and Energy Star dishwasher will be discontinued.

The changes are part of an on-going analysis by Avista’s energy efficiency experts to make sure our rebates line up with products and equipment that will provide the most energy savings for the dollar. The impacted rebates are/were only available in Idaho and Washington.

Lots of rebates remain for upgrading to high efficiency equipment like furnaces and water heaters and for other energy efficiency improvements around your home. Visit us at www.everylittlebit.com, where you can also learn about rebates for commercial and industrial customers.

Energy efficiency helps individual customers reduce their energy use during a time when energy costs continue to rise. Energy efficiency is a benefit to Avista too. Long-term, using less energy helps all customers by allowing us to delay building or acquiring more expensive generation to meet customer needs.

And, it costs less per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to help customers reduce their energy use through energy efficiency programs than it costs to purchase or generate new power to meet customer needs. Using our resources wisely has a positive impact on our community and on our environment.

I admit that I’m partial - I think Avista’s energy efficiency rebates are great. Along with thousands of other Avista customers, my family has received rebates for energy efficiency upgrades we’ve made that have helped us reduce our energy use while making our home more comfortable. You just can’t beat that combination.
 
Published: 1/16/2012  12:08 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 13 , 2012
Post by Scott Steele
www.avistautilities.com
 
In 2011 more customers came to Avista’s website than any other time in history. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011 there were 1,042,123 visitors to www.Avistautilities.com.

The addition of the mobile website in March may have played a part in this milestone as nearly 80,000 of these visitors arrived via their smart phone.

Hitting this mark shouldn’t come as a surprise as Avista Utilities’ website has been ranked the best (2009) and the second best (2011) utility website in North America by E Source in recent studies. Customers can easily view and pay their bill on the site as well as get account information, sign up for services such as eBill, have a discussion on the blog and view information on rebates and energy efficiency.

Customer awareness of www.Avistautilities.com comes from many places. The website address is on Avista line trucks and is included in nearly all customer communication such as advertising, press releases, and customer service conversations.

Thanks for stopping by.
Published: 1/13/2012  3:28 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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