May 10 , 2012
Avista is disappointed in the article that ran in today’s Spokesman-Review titled “Avista gives cash to oust two North Idaho incumbents,”
regarding Idaho legislators and our contribution to political campaigns in Idaho. We believe the article is misleading, and want to set the record straight about our intent and practice of engaging in policy discussions and issues on behalf of our customers and communities.
Public policy participation
Avista actively participates in local, state and national legislative and governmental activities. We work to develop relationships with elected and appointed office holders in order to understand the complexities of public policy affecting our company and be at the table on behalf of our customers and communities.
“It is appropriate and responsible for the company, through shareholder dollars and the employee-funded political action committee, to make political contributions as part of a comprehensive government relations program. Customers’ rate dollars do not fund these activities,” said Avista Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Morris.
“As an energy company, Avista and our customers, communities, employees and shareholders are affected by the decisions made by federal, state and local officials,” Morris said. “It is essential that we have a voice in the public policy arena and that we participate in the process for the benefit of all our stakeholders.”
Avista has supported many bipartisan and partisan efforts with clear benefits to our customers and communities. These include:
• Recent passage of SB5575, which will allow power from Avista’s Kettle Falls Biomass plant
to qualify as renewable under Washington State Renewable Portfolio Mandates. Passage of this bill will help preserve rural jobs and is expected to save electric customers hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary capital spending on new renewable energy resources.
• Washington State University Spokane’s Biomedical and Health Sciences Building on the Riverpoint campus
, which broke ground in fall 2011 and will provide long-term economic benefits to our region as part of the comprehensive Academic Health Science Center project.
• Washington HB 1489, signed in 2011, which bans phosphorus in lawn fertilizers. Avista worked with a coalition of business, agriculture and environmental groups to help find an approach to reduce phosphorous loading into Washington lakes and rivers, improving water quality.
• Legislation to create in Pierce, Idaho, the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a multi-phase youth intervention program intended to improve the education, life skills and employment potential of enrolled high school students in the state of Idaho. (HB 662, 2012)
• Community investments made through corporate and Avista Foundation giving (not included in customer rates). Avista Corp. and Avista Foundation donations and grants in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon totaled $1.47 million in 2011.
Avista has a long history of supporting both Democrats and Republicans for election.
Avista is legally prohibited from contributing directly to political candidates for elected federal offices. In 2011, we contributed $75,770 in the states where we serve customers and where such contributions are allowed.
In Idaho in 2012, Avista has made a total of $20,250 in direct contributions to 37 candidates in 24 of the state’s 35 legislative districts. Each of these are limited to a total of $1,000 or less per candidate per election. In Washington, direct contributions to candidates total $3,450 in 2012, and in Oregon direct contributions to candidates total $5,500 in 2012. Our contributions support incumbents, challengers, and new candidates who are running for open seats. Separate contributions to political action committees in Idaho and Oregon in 2012 totaled $20,000 and $1,500 respectively.
Avista also has a voluntary, non-partisan committee for non-craft-member employees called the Avista Employees for Effective Government political action committee. Through the Avista Employee PAC, our employees have contributed $5,640 to federal candidates and political organizations in 2012.
May 09 , 2012
Avista is working to improve paths and viewing points along the Spokane River
Pedestrians can still access the suspension bridge to
get some great views of the Spokane River, however
the south entrance of the bridge near the Upper Falls
powerhouse will be closed for construction.
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also
have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in
the beautiful Spokane River.
The footbridge near the viewing platform will be open
to pedestrians during Memorial Day weekend.
Beginning this week, Riverfront Park visitors in downtown Spokane will be detoured away from the south end of the suspension bridge by Avista’s Upper Falls Dam powerhouse.
For the next four weeks, Avista is working on a project to improve the deteriorated asphalt roadway and powerhouse parking area. The asphalt roadway will be repaved with asphalt, concrete will be installed in front of the powerhouse, and reinforced turf and porous pavers and grass will be installed in this area. These improvements will improve access to the powerhouse and will make for an easier, safer trek for pedestrians crossing the bridge.
You can still enjoy the great views on the bridge by accessing it from the north side of Canada Island; you just can’t cross the bridge on the south end until the work is complete. The nearest river crossing in the park is Howard Street Bridge, just east of the suspension bridge by the Upper Falls Powerhouse. Signs will be posted to redirect park users.
Safety is a top priority at Avista. During our project, you may see workers, cranes, and other construction equipment in the area. For your safety, please obey posted signs and stay out of fenced-off areas.
New viewing platform
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in the beautiful Spokane River. Avista constructed the viewing platform last fall so we could access the Upper Falls Dam for maintenance and upgrades. This spring, we’re working on the east end of Havermale Island to complete paving of the area. Spokane City Parks and Recreation will take it from there to put in plants and vegetation.
The footbridge near the viewing platform will be open to pedestrians during Memorial Day weekend.
The work we’re doing will improve pedestrian access and aesthetics at Riverfront Park.
May 07 , 2012
Avista is replacing nearly 9 miles of natural gas
pipeline in Davenport, Wash. The project is
estimated to cost more than $3 million. The
work will be conducted May to October.
Bring in the diggers and heavy equipment because construction is underway in Davenport, Wash., as Avista replaces nearly 9 miles of natural gas pipeline that’s approaching the end of its service life. The project carries a price tag of more than $3 million. It’s part of Avista’s commitment to maintain and upgrade our natural gas pipeline system.
From May through October, Avista-authorized contractor Loy Clark will be installing new natural gas pipelines in streets and alleys throughout Davenport.
As we replace the natural gas pipeline one section at a time, Davenport natural gas customers will experience a short interruption of service while we’re working on the natural gas pipeline in a specific area. Customers will be notified two days in advance of working in their neighborhood so they can plan ahead. Once the work is complete and service is restored, qualified Avista personnel or contractors will safely relight appliances, such as water heaters.
Attendance was light when we held an open house at the Davenport Memorial Hall on Wednesday, May 2, to answer questions about the project. Hopefully that means that folks in Davenport are comfortable with the project.
This six-month, $3 million project is just one example of how Avista must continually invest in maintaining and upgrading the natural gas pipelines that allow us to serve our customers.
May 04 , 2012
Thanks to new Smart Grid technology, approximately 6,500 Pullman customers can now access their real-time energy usage simply by logging onto their “My Avista” account. It’s the latest milestone in Avista’s Smart Grid Demonstration Project that’s underway in Pullman.
Avista has joined with regional partners, led by Battelle, to develop a smart grid demonstration project using matching stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The intent of the demonstration project is to show how smart grid technology can enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of energy delivery on a regional and national level.
The past two years have been spent designing, constructing and installing complex technology, including advanced meters, in the Pullman area that create the foundation for secure, two-way, wireless communication between customer meters and Avista.
As part of the demonstration project, Avista recently started a one-year study designed to test whether access to energy usage information has any potential impact on peoples’ behavior.
Approximately 6,500 randomly-selected customers in the Pullman area were given access to a special advanced meter web portal that lets them view their energy usage down to the hour, make adjustments and start saving energy based on their energy choices and behavior. They can see charts and graphs that track changes or trends and make more informed decisions about how to use energy.
The remaining customers in the Pullman area will not have access to the special Advanced Meter Web Portal until April 2013 when the study period concludes.
Studies like this are helping Avista learn how new technologies can enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of energy delivery for all of our customers.
May 01 , 2012
Today First Wind officially broke ground on Palouse Wind, a wind farm near the town of Oakesdale off of State Route 195. Last year Avista signed a 30-year power purchase agreement for the renewable wind power that will be generated at the site once it’s completed later this year.
The wind farm is expected be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with 58 turbines and the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes.
The power we get from Palouse Wind will be part of a diverse, responsible energy portfolio that includes renewable resources generated right here in eastern Washington. In addition, the project is helping Avista invest in our infrastructure through the transmission upgrades we’re making so we can connect the power to our system. Palouse Wind will help Avista meet its goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, while meeting renewable portfolio standards in Washington.
The groundbreaking ceremony included speakers from Avista, First Wind, Vestas, as well as several elected officials from Whitman County and the surrounding area who discussed the benefits of the project to the area’s economy, the surrounding communities and Avista’s customers.
The event was held at the future site of the project’s substation, a leveled section of land among the rolling hills that dot the landscape.
The turbines and their massive blades are not up yet, but will be shipped from Colorado to Washington by train and then transferred by trucks to the site, where they’ll be erected this summer. It should be a site to see. When the turbines go up, we’ll update the blog.