Jul 19 , 2012

Spokane SWAT at Avista

Avista equips first responders with electric and natural gas safety training
 

To ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the public, Avista works closely with local firefighters, police and other first responders so we are all prepared to take action when called upon.

This work includes coordinating with other first responders in emergencies, mock accident training and basic electric and natural gas training.

Last month, the City of Spokane SWAT Team came to Avista to learn a little electric and natural gas 101, as well as how to disconnect electric and gas meters in an emergency situation. 

The Spokane SWAT Team supports the Spokane Police Department with tactical response to critical incidents, such as hostage, barricade, or sniper situations. One of their objectives during an incident is to make the area safe. This includes eliminating the perpetrator’s ability to misuse electricity or natural gas to harm or threaten the safety of others.

“If there are potential electric or natural gas hazards, we always encourage first responders to contact us first,” said Bill Baker, Avista gas training and codes coordinator. “If they have to act at that moment, we’ve ensured they have the proper training to defuse a potentially volatile situation with electricity or natural gas.”

Baker, along with Natural Gas Foreman Dan Gigler taught the class of 30 SWAT team members how to pull an electric meter, how to turn off the gas meter and the importance of wearing safety equipment in the process.

First responders often put their lives on the line to ensure the public’s safety. Avista’s gas and electric servicemen and women, also first responders, ensure the public’s safety by making a situation safe from any potential electric or natural gas dangers.

Safety for everyone is always top of mind every day that we work to deliver energy to your homes and businesses. The training and partnership with other first responders is just one of the many examples of our commitment to your safety.

Check out more information about electric and natural gas safety.
Published: 7/19/2012  4:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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.

Political contributions
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.
 
Have questions? Email us at conversation@avistautilities.com
 
Links to more information:
-Kettle Falls Biomass Bill
 
 
 
 
Published: 5/10/2012  2:21 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 14 , 2012
Facebook picture
Facebook picture
Please “like” Avista Utilities on Facebook 
and get the conversation started

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
 
If you’re reading this post, you’re one of the thousands of people who stop by the Avista Blog each month. Yes, I wrote “thousands.” We’ve been at this blog thing for quite some time now. We launched in June of 2009 and have maintained a steady following here, on YouTube and Twitter. And we appreciate each and every one of you. But now we’ve added another channel – Facebook.

We’re a tad bit late to the game on Facebook – just ask one of the 845 million people already using the site. Yet, I think we have some great content and stories to share that will make your experience on Facebook unique and informative, otherwise we’d be just another bland Facebook page. And that’s just not Avista.

Here are a few examples. When your lights go out during a storm and you’re sitting in the dark (briefly), you want to know that a crew is working on your restoration. We’ve created some videos to show what it looks like for a typical outage. What really goes into that process? On the natural gas side we’ve created videos and slide shows that feature our crews building new pipelines that serve you. These are projects you probably wouldn’t see any other way, but can get an up close view through Facebook.

But Facebook isn’t just about Avista showing you what we’re working on. You can ask general questions, make comments, share or like posts. It’s an ongoing conversation.

Brandi Smith (@AvistaBrandi) and myself (@AvistaDan) monitor the page and post content Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. If you use Facebook, you already know how this works and I encourage you to like our page and get the ball rolling.

“Like” Avista Utilities
To “like” Avista Utilities, Facebook users should go to www.facebook.com/avistautilities and click “like.” It’s that easy. 

Like Avista

Published: 3/14/2012  9:49 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 05 , 2012
A first-hand account of my experience with Avista's home energy audit program
 
 
Blower door test
The blower door test detects excess air escaping and entering
your home.
For about the same price as you’d pay for a nice dinner out or a ski lift ticket on Mount Spokane, you can purchase an in-home energy audit if you live within Spokane County. Sure, dinner or skiing sounds like much more fun, but a home energy audit provides a lot of advantages, some obvious and some not so obvious. Here are five reasons why you should consider signing up for an audit with Avista Utilities. I just had my audit done last weekend, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. 
 

1. A home energy audit can save your life. If your home uses natural gas or propane, the certified home energy contractor may find safety hazards, such as an appliance or furnace that produces unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. Peace of mind is priceless and it’s always nice to know if your home passes the test or not.

2. For as low as $49, you get a tremendous amount of value out of a home energy audit. Not only does a professional certified contractor inspect your home, but after the audit you get a box full of energy efficiency goodies from Avista. (see photo) Our home energy auditors were BPI Certified, which is the standard for all Avista in-home energy audit contractors.
 

3. What you find out may surprise you. Home energy pros can find problems and opportunities that you might miss – even if you are a devoted energy saver, the pros have equipment that finds problems that might otherwise have gone unnoticed such as pesky leaks in your home’s ductwork.  
 
4. The blower door test is as cool as it sounds. Oh my goodness, you will be shocked by how many air leaks this technology detects in your home. The blower door is a tool that depressurizes your home and stimulates a 20 mph wind blowing on all surfaces of your home simultaneously. This causes outside air to rush through holes in your home’s exterior envelope. The largest air leak in my home was coming from the flue vent in our unfinished basement. We can easily remedy that by capping the vent. Something we never would have thought of before this audit. Outlets and light switches are also a common culprit.  Avista provides outlet and light switch insulators in the  goody box provided to you at the end of your audit.
 

Energy efficiency kit
With every home energy audit, you get a
box full of items that will help you
improve your homes energy efficiency.
5. Knowledge is the key to savings. Ever wonder how your energy use compares to others? After your in-home audit, you get a detailed report in the mail about your homes energy use as well as helpful recommendations on what you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home. In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable pieces of information a homeowner can have. The recommendations will help me prioritize my home improvement projects for years to come.
Are you ready to maximize your energy efficiency? Good! Find out if your home qualifies for the in-home energy audit here.
 
You can also find more information about Avista’s energy efficiency programs at everylittlebit.com. Once you have registered for the In-Home Energy Audit, completed the Online Home Energy Analyzer, and your payment has been received by Avista, a representative from one of Avista’s certified home energy auditing contractors will call you within 10 business days of the receipt of your payment to schedule your in-home energy audit.

The popular program is ending in September so make sure to sign up for an audit by August 15.
Published: 3/5/2012  4:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 24 , 2012

Audio
Over the past few years, we’ve made a point of reaching out to the communities we serve to have conversations about our energy future. Recently, we had the opportunity to participate in a talk radio show, “Money Management,” on Spokane’s KXLY 920 am (www.kxly920.com) to share information about the financial side of Avista Corp. Chief Financial Officer Mark Thies and Investor Relations Manager Jason Lang gave listeners a general overview of the corporation, as well as some insight into two of the operating divisions of Avista Corp, namely Avista Utilities and Ecova, our primary unregulated operating division.

On the air.

(From left) Mike Maehl, radio host; Mark Thies,
Avista Chief Financial Officer; Jason Lang, Avista
Investor Relations Manager; Jim Harvey, radio
host.Listen to the audio to hear what was
discussed.

We’ve provided a link to a recording of the program (audio link) in this posting so you can listen to the conversation Mark and Jason had with host Mike Maehl and Jim Harvey, his partner from the financial consulting firm Opus 111 Group. They talked about topics as wide ranging as Avista’s ranking among the greenest utilities in the country in generating electricity to implementing smart grid technology on our system; from total shareholder return to the dividend yield on Avista common stock. You’ll also be interested to hear about Ecova, which provides energy and sustainability management services to businesses in the Fortune 500.

We encourage you to take about 30 minutes to hear about Avista from some different voices, from those who see our company from the financial perspective. We think you’ll learn a lot and maybe come away from the experience saying, “I didn’t know that!”
Published: 2/24/2012  3:45 PM | 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

Nov 04 , 2011
slideshow
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Last evening more than 350 individuals stopped by Avista’s Energy Fair at the West Central Community Center in Spokane. Fairgoers were treated to energy efficiency demonstrations and provided free samples to get their home projects underway this heating season. It’s time to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
 
Community agencies: SNAP, Second Harvest Food Bank, Money Management Int. and WorkSource were on hand to provide information.
 
Avista customer service representatives met with customers on site and discussed any account or billing questions.
Kids of all ages learned about energy, energy efficiency and safety from Wattson, Avista’s Energy Watchdog, who sang and danced his way into their hearts.
 
A hearty meal was also provided through Christ Kitchen. 
 
Events like this are free to the community, but often are invaluable for our customers.  Similar events, which are staffed by Avista employees, have been held previously in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Clarkston. Stay tuned to the blog for the next event in early 2012.
 
If you attended the event last night, let us know what you thought about it here.
 
Published: 11/4/2011  1:33 PM | 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

May 02 , 2011
Customers continue benefiting from rebate and incentive programs to reduce energy use
 
Post by Debbie Simock 
 
Avista natural gas customers in Washington and Idaho could see a decrease in their natural gas rates beginning July 1, if the public utility commissions in the two states approve the company’s request to reduce the natural gas portion of the company’s tariff-funded energy efficiency rebate and incentive programs.

The decrease is being requested to true-up the amount of funding for the program with the amount paid out in natural gas rebates and incentives to participating customers. The request is part of Avista’s annual report to Washington and Idaho regulators regarding the funding of the company’s energy efficiency programs. Avista has not requested to change the current electric energy efficiency tariff.

Natural gas customers in Washington would see an overall 2.9 percent decrease, or $1.66 a month decrease for residential customers using 67 therms, if Avista’s request is approved. Idaho natural gas customers would see an overall 4.2 percent decrease, or $2.41 a month decrease for a residential customer using an average 63 therms, if approved. These tariff adjustments have no impact on company earnings.

"Customers want to save energy, and they look to us for energy efficiency expertise as well as rebates and incentives,” said Patrick Lynch, Avista’s director of energy solutions. “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.”

Last year customers in Avista’s three-state service area received over 42,000 rebates and incentives totaling almost $19 million The energy savings are enough to power over 5,700 Inland Northwest homes for a year and serve 3,100 homes with natural gas for a year, or almost 69,000 megawatt hours and 2.3 million therms of natural gas.

Of the rebates paid in 2010, over 28,000 were to Washington customers totaling $13.1 million, over 12,000 rebates to Idaho customers totaling $4.8 million, and Oregon customers received 2,400 rebates totaling $956,000. The most popular energy and cost-saving measures for residential customers included purchasing Energy Star ® appliances, installing high efficiency natural gas furnaces, and upgrading windows and insulation. The average residential rebate for single family homes was $131.

Approximately $1.5 million was provided for weatherization for qualifying low-income customers in Washington and $465,000 for Idaho customers. An additional $25,000 was provided for conservation education for Idaho customers.

Information on energy efficiency rebates and incentives Avista offers for residential, commercial and low-income customers is available at www.everylittlebit.com, along with other energy-saving information.
 
 
Published: 5/2/2011  1:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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