May 30 , 2013
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers that they want more information about how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community partnerships. Avista’s fifth annual report on our performance – our sustainability responsibility report -- is titled “Shared Value – Shared Success.”
Our purpose statement says, “To improve life’s quality with energy – safely, reliably and responsibly.” Each year, our report provides a comprehensive look at what goes into providing that energy and how often this has additional benefits to the customers and communities we serve. That’s shared value.
In this year’s report, we tell many stories of how shared value is created throughout our business. We’ve added some great graphics to help illustrate some of the information, as well as links to videos and other online resources to give readers many different ways to get the most complete story possible.
As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published only online. But a PDF file can be downloaded for your convenience in reading the report or sharing it with others.
Shared value is at the heart of what Avista does every day. We hope you’ll take the time to read this year’s report and give us your feedback by email at SharedValue@avistacorp.com
. We want to hear from you about how we can continue to build shared value and shared successes.
May 29 , 2013
Today, Avista and local Spokane first responders participated in a surprise, mock electrical emergency that involved the theft of copper wire from overhead power lines. Avista facilitated the exercise that resulted in mock injuries to one thief and resulted in a fatality for another.
Avista crews arrived at a scene in North Spokane to find a rescue dummy (thief 1) draped over an overhead power line near a power pole. His accomplice, (thief 2) was attached to the base of the pole. Both men had received electrical shocks as they attempted to steal copper wire.
The crew moved swiftly to ensure the power lines were de-energized, meaning no electricity was running through them. They then removed the copper thieves from the pole and began life-saving efforts with the aid of local first responders who had already secured the surrounding scene.
Avista and first responders work in coordination on this sort of mock scenario to ensure that when they do occur in real life, all agencies respond appropriately.
All agencies involved are reviewing their performance to find any areas of improvement for the future.
Copper theft is a serious and dangerous crime. Since mid-2011 approximately 123 copper theft incidents have occurred in the Spokane area costing Avista and its customers $400,000 in replacement costs. The danger is not only to thieves, but also anyone who comes into contact with a live electrical line. For your safety, if you see a down wire, stay away and call Avista at 1-800-227-9187.
May 15 , 2013
We’ve heard it many times in the past: Paul Redmond was Mr. Washington Water Power. Redmond, retired chairman, president and CEO of WWP, now named Avista, was recently recognized for his lifetime of leadership both in our company and in the Inland Northwest. Avista Corp. established the Paul A. Redmond Endowed Engineering Scholarship at Gonzaga University School of Engineering and Applied Science in honor Redmond, a 1959 Gonzaga alumnus.
The fund seeks to honor the legacy of Redmond’s leadership at Avista and to promote excellence in the field of engineering “such that scholars become innovators, problem-solvers and diverse, talented employees of our future.”
Scholarships will be awarded to engineering students who are entering juniors and possess a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0, with preference given to women and minority students, and to students with U.S. military experience – including active-duty military personnel, veterans and ROTC students.
“We’re pleased to honor Paul’s legacy of leadership at WWP/Avista and to recognize the significant impacts he made in our community and our region,” said Scott Morris, Avista Corp. chairman, president and CEO. “Creating an endowed scholarship at Paul’s alma mater, Gonzaga University, seems a fitting way to help prepare the engineers of the future and bring his legacy to life for others for years to come.”
Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh singled out Redmond’s leadership style that placed great value on an uncanny ability to bring people together.
“Whether developing a company, a city, a region or a whole industry, Paul Redmond consistently and creatively demonstrated the power that comes with bringing people together to work toward a greater goal,” President McCulloh said. “This is why I am so pleased we have a scholarship that bears Paul Redmond’s name so that all future recipients will come to know his name, his story and the power of collaboration.”
Stephen Silliman, dean of Gonzaga’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, credited Redmond for building upon Gonzaga’s historic partnership with Avista, a collaboration responsible for development of Gonzaga’s Transmission and Distribution Program
, establishment of the Avista Scholars program and creation of the Redmond Engineering Scholarship.
“The relationship that Avista has developed with Gonzaga University is an exciting model of how industry can partner with schools to create exceptional opportunities for students, faculty, industry, and the regions we serve,” Silliman said. “It’s fitting that this scholarship seeks to develop in our students those leadership skills important in the engineering profession and exemplified by Paul Redmond. It is also fitting that this scholarship provides a unique opportunity to build a more diverse engineering profession through focusing support on women, those with military experience, and others traditionally underrepresented in our engineering programs.
Pictured above: (From left) Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh; Paul Redmond; Avista Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Scott Morris; and Stephen Silliman, dean of the Gonzaga School of Engineering and Applied Science. Photo by Rajah Bose, Gonzaga University.
May 09 , 2013
If this spring’s unseasonably warm weather is drawing you to the lake or river this weekend, Avista reminds you to exercise caution as snowmelt is causing high, swift and cold river flows.
While the water may look calm on top, the current is usually very strong. Combined with cold water temperatures, swimmers can find themselves in a dangerous situation quickly. As a public service, Avista reports on area lake and river levels and makes the reports available to the community by calling (509) 495-8043 or (208) 769-1357.
To protect yourself and your companions when recreating on or along a river or lake, always follow these important safety tips:
- Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), even if you are an adult. It’s always a good idea to attach an emergency alert whistle to your PFD.
- Remember that water is extremely cold in spring. Know the symptoms of hypothermia.
- Keep your head above water. Muscles in your limbs can stop working after only 10 minutes. Hypothermia can begin in one hour or less depending on the water temperatures.
- Be alert to strong currents and undertows.
- Always be alert for debris, obstructions and partially submerged objects that may be a result of spring run-off and high water conditions.
- Always obey warning signs near dams.
- Never cross boater restraint cables or buoy lines that designate areas where boats should not operate. The closer a boat or individual gets to a dam or powerhouse, the more hazardous the situation becomes.
- Never fish, swim or boat above or below a dam – water levels can change rapidly with the operation of spillgates and turbines.
- If in a sailboat or catamaran, always look for overhead cables and power lines.
- Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Never anchor your boat below a dam
- Make a voyage plan including the area you will be recreating, who is in your party and return time. Share the plan with someone who will not be in your party.
When on the water, obey all warning signs, follow all rules and regulations, and use common sense. Remember rivers and streams are at their peak flows during spring and early summer. Here are more safety tips
Apr 29 , 2013
Be on alert to a national phone scam targeting utility customers that is currently happening in our area. Individuals misrepresenting themselves as Avista employees are calling customers threatening to turn off electric and gas service if payment is not made to them that day.
How it works:
- A caller identifying him or herself as an Avista employee tells customers that their account is past due or there is problem with their account.
- Your caller ID may show that the call is coming from Avista even if it is not. This is called caller ID spoofing.
- Customers are told they must purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak or go to a retail location and make a same day payment to avoid a disconnection of service that day.
- Customers are told to use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them. At that point, your funds are going to the scammer, not where you thought.
What to do if you get a call:
When Avista makes an outbound phone call to customers, the caller ID will identify the call as coming from Avista. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an Avista representative demanding immediate payment, using high pressure tactics or asking for your confidential information, end the call without providing any information and phone us at (800) 227-9187. That’s our customer service number, which is also located on your Avista bill.
As a precaution, you should shred your Avista bill to protect your private account information which includes your payment due date, amount of payment due and account number.
Also be alert to door-to-door sales personnel who claim to represent Avista and our programs. Any Avista employee or authorized contractor will have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Ask to see it if you are in doubt. If they don’t have identification, you can ask them to leave. Authorized contractors also have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista and will have Avista program material.
Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone. Customers should report it to local law enforcement if they believe they have been the target of a scam.
Apr 17 , 2013
Caller demanding immediate payment in unusual manner to avoid disconnection of service
Avista customers in the Palouse area and Lewiston are reporting receiving phone calls from an individual demanding that immediate payment of their utility bill be made by pre-paid cards or at a non-Avista location. All customers are cautioned that this is not Avista’s business practice and to be alert to this type of fraudulent phone call.
A customer with a past due amount is notified by letter if there is an outstanding balance that could result in a disconnection of service. Avista does not contact customers asking for confidential information, such as social security number, credit card number or banking information or demand immediate payment.
If a customer receives a phone call and feels pressured for immediate payment or to provide personal information, the customer should hang up the phone and contact Avista at (800) 227-9187. Customers can also call Avista any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
“The trust of our customers is very important. That’s why we want to make sure customers know our process for contacting them so they do not become a victim of scam artists,” said Mike Broemeling, Avista’s director of customer service. “Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone.”
Staying safe also means knowing who may be on your property. Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Customers should ask to see it if in doubt. If they don’t have identification, customers can ask them to leave.
Avista field employees wear a lime-green safety reflective vest with an Avista logo while others often wear a sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt or other similar clothing with an Avista logo. Authorized Avista contractors have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista Utilities.
Field employees and authorized contractors typically do not need access to the inside of your home unless you have contacted Avista directly about a specific problem.
Apr 10 , 2013
Your friends and neighbors will be green with envy if you win the playhouse that Avista employees built to support a brand new community fundraising event called Project Playhouse Spokane.
The 8-foot square playhouse sits atop a giant wooden recycled cable spool, has a solar panel that powers LED lights inside the playhouse and here’s the best feature – there’s a turbine-like propeller mounted on the exterior that you can spin by turning the attached wheel inside the playhouse. How cool is that?!
It’s sure to provide tons of fun for your children or grandkids! It could be yours – if you have the winning bid!
Avista’s playhouse will be one of 10 whimsical playhouses that will be auctioned off this Saturday to raise funds for the West Central Community Center, Northeast Youth Center and Peaceful Valley Community Center. All three centers provide support for local children and youth.
Avista employees volunteered their time and talent to design and build the playhouse. About half of the $3,000 in materials was donated by several vendors, while Avista contributed the other half, along with lots of creativity and enthusiasm.
“It was really fun to see it all come together. We used wind power as our design inspiration to give the playhouse an ‘energy’ theme. With the propeller for a wind turbine, solar panel, LED lights and recycled cable spool, it actually looks like something you’d expect to be created by a utility. We’re even including some safety cones and hard hats with the playhouse,” said Avista’s Jayson Hunnel, who spearheaded the effort and rallied employees to help build the creation.
It’s exciting for Avista to be part of the first-time ever Project Playhouse Spokane Auction. Let’s see how much money we can raise for the three centers and the children and youth that will benefit from the auction proceeds.
This is just one example of how Avista and our employees contribute our time, talent and treasure to the communities we serve.
For more information on Project Playhouse Spokane, call the West Central Community Center at 509-323-7480.
Mar 27 , 2013
Idaho customers provided more rate certainty over the next two years.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) has approved the multi-party settlement agreement in the electric and natural gas rate requests we filed last October. If you’re an Idaho natural gas customer, you’ll see two adjustments to your natural gas rates – April 1 and Oct. 1. Electric customers will see an adjustment on Oct. 1.
We’ve agreed not to request an increase in base retail rates that would take effect before Jan. 1, 2015. Other annual adjustments, such as for the cost of wholesale natural gas and purchased power, can still be requested since they are a separate part of your rate and have no impact on earnings. This means you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better manage your energy costs.
The bottom line
As a result of the approval, you’ll see two rate changes if you’re an Avista Idaho natural gas customer:
- Beginning April 1, if you use an average 60 therms of natural gas a month, you’ll see an increase of $2.82 a month for a revised bill of $55.37.
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an additional increase of $0.31 for a revised bill of $55.68.
If you’re an electric customer using an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month:
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an increase of $2.04 for a revised monthly bill of $80.73.
Mar 01 , 2013
If you have a few minutes today, check out the amazing winning videos
in Avista’s annual Every Little Bit Video Contest. The Grand Prize award went to Pullman High School students Shantara Pintak, Matthew Winchell and Mike Crawford for their “Watts & Hertz” video (pictured above left). Each received an Apple iPad 3 and a tour of COMRADE Studio in Spokane with the opportunity to help prepare their video for television. Pullman High School teacher and Multimedia class instructor Doug Winchell received a $2,500 technology grant for his class.
Students in Doug’s class are no strangers to the video contest. This is the third consecutive year that a video from a student team at Pullman High School has received a technology grant through the Every Little Bit Video Contest, last year receiving the Viewer’s Choice award. Three Pullman High School teams also received Honorable Mention awards in last year’s contest.
Viewer’s Choice, as voted by visitors to the Every Little Bit Video website, went to Ferris High School students Mark Balabanov, Colin Calvert, Irina Peregudova for their “Be Bolt” video (pictured above right). Each received an Apple iPod Nano and the school received a $1,500 technology grant which media instructor Joan Conger said would go toward a new boom microphone for the class.
The contest gives high school students the opportunity to create short videos demonstrating the importance of energy efficiency practices and its benefit for the environment. By engaging students in the importance of using energy wisely today, they’ll be better stewards tomorrow.
Congratulations to these talented and creative students!
Feb 06 , 2013
Proposed settlement provides more certainty for customers to manage energy costs over the next two years
Today we announced a settlement agreement with several parties on the Idaho electric and natural gas general rate requests we filed back in October
. You can read our news release here
. The settlement, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or commission) would mean a two-phase rate increase in electric and natural gas rates. The first would take effect April 1, 2013 and the second on Oct. 1, 2013.
As part of the settlement, we’ve agreed not to request additional general rate increases that would take effect before Jan. 1 of 2015. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t adjust rates based on power supply or wholesale natural gas costs before then (remember, that’s a separate part of your bill). For more information about how we adjust those costs, read our Natural Gas Pricing 101
series or visit our website area About Natural Gas and Power Costs
But what it does mean is that you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better plan to manage your energy costs. And your energy prices will still be among the lowest in the nation
The bottom line
Here’s how the changes, if approved would affect your energy bill.
If the commission approves the settlement and you are an Avista electric customer, you would see one general rate increase:
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an increase of $2.04 per month, for a revised bill of $80.73.
Here’s how the changes, if approved, would affect you as a natural gas customer:
• Beginning April 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an increase of $2.82 a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.37.
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an additional increase of 31 cents a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.68.
The settlement and what’s next
You may be wondering what a rate case settlement agreement is and how it all works. When Avista files a request to increase rates, it goes through a process much like a legal proceeding. Parties representing various groups including residential, small-business, low-income and electric industrial customers, participate on behalf of their groups.
The commission oversees this process, and is charged with setting rates that are fair, just, and reasonable for customers, while allowing Avista the opportunity to earn a fair return on the investment shareholders make so we can continue delivering safe, reliable energy. When we can reach an agreement like this one, it saves time and the cost of a fully litigated rate case. It is ultimately up to the commission to approve the request.
In addition to Avista, the parties to the proposed settlement are the Staff of the IPUC, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Idaho Forest Group and The Idaho Conservation League. The IPUC will establish a procedural schedule to gather comments on the proposed settlement from parties to the rate case, as well as customers of Avista, prior to making a decision. For more information, see the IPUC website
Here is another resource about how energy rates are set that you might find helpful.