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.
Feb 05 , 2013
Scams - it seems like hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear or read about one somewhere.
Unfortunately, scams involving utilities are not new. To help make sure you don’t fall victim to someone representing themselves as Avista, we want you to know about our standard business practices.
• Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or 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.
• Some of our 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.
• As a customer, you should not receive a phone call or email from us asking for your confidential information, such as security number, credit card number or banking information or demanding immediate payment over the phone. Instead a customer with a past due amount would be notified by letter of the outstanding balance and possible disconnection of service.
• If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an Avista representative asking for your confidential information, end the call and phone us at (800) 227-9187. That’s our customer service number which is also located on your Avista bill. You can also call us any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
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.
Feb 01 , 2013
Each year Avista makes more than $1 million in donations to non-profit organizations in the communities we serve. In 2012, that giving totaled more than $1.6 million, up from $1.4 million in 2011. Funding for these donations comes from Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation
. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.
And, our employees are generous with their time and talents as well. Last year, Avista employees gave nearly 50,000 hours of volunteer service to community organizations in their hometowns.
One of the largest volunteer efforts in 2012 was Avista’s participation in the Salvation Army’s annual “Backpack for Kids” program. Partnering alongside community volunteers, more than 120 employees staffed the 10-hour day, giving away more than 3,700 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, serving more than 1,500 families.
“Even without the charity this company gives to the community, Avista and its employees make the Inland Northwest a better place to live,” said Captain Kyle Smith, Salvation Army Corps officer. “We greatly appreciate the leadership Avista has shown throughout the years in strengthening the safety net services for those most in need in our community.”
Supporting essential human care services as well as the arts, education and economic vitality are essential elements of our role as a partner in the communities we serve.
Jan 23 , 2013
Avista Utilities will start to draw down the water level at Lake Spokane
(Long Lake Reservoir) today. Operators expect to lower the reservoir up to one foot per day for a two to three-week period, until it reaches its winter elevation of 13 to 14 feet below maximum summer elevation of 1,536 feet.
Under the right weather conditions, which include sustained periods of single-digit temperatures and little or no snow on the exposed lakebed, the drawdown is expected to help control Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic weeds found in Lake Spokane. The drawdown also allows shoreline homeowners the opportunity to complete state and locally permitted repair and construction projects along the lake shoreline.
Property owners and lake-users are reminded to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate shifting ice and low-water conditions. Floating and removable docks are less susceptible to damage from shifting or changing ice levels.
The lower winter elevation will be maintained as long as river flows allow. However, during the drawdown period water levels are subject to change due to a variety of factors, such as weather (rain on snow events in the upper drainages) or maintenance at the Long Lake Dam. Lake users should always be alert to signs of such changes and exercise the highest level of personal caution and safety.
Avista also has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated changes on Lake Spokane, the Spokane River and Coeur d’Alene Lake. In Washington, call (509) 495-8043; in Idaho, call (208) 769-1357.
The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check current river and lake levels
on our website.
Jan 15 , 2013
This year's trees are Red Oak (top) and
Sugar Maple (bottom).
If you live in Spokane County, you’re probably more concerned with shoveling snow right now than thinking about summer shade. But acting now could help you start saving on your summer energy bill.
We’ve teamed with the Spokane Conservation District (SCD) to again provide free shade trees to Avista electric customers living in Spokane County to help them reduce energy use and cost. A well-planned landscape, including strategically place shade trees, can reduce an unshaded home’s summer air conditioning costs.
Here are a couple of things you need to know about the program:
• The homeowner must be an Avista electric customer.
• There must be space for a large tree on the west or southwest side of the house - the sides that take the most sun and heat gain. Depending on the type of tree, it needs between 15 to 30 feet to prevent problems.
• The property must be your full-time home - recreational or seasonal homes are not eligible.
Applying to the program is easy, just fill out a registration form
and fax it to the SCD office at 509-535-7410 or mail it to Spokane Conservation District, 210 N. Havana St., Spokane, WA 99202. A SCD representative will contact you and visit your property to determine if there is enough space for a shade tree. If so, the best location for it will be marked and the tree will be planted for you on a later visit.
The program only plants 50 trees per season (50 in spring and 50 in autumn), so apply soon to secure a spot. If you don’t make it into the spring planting, try again for the fall one.
If you have any questions about the Avista Shade Tree Program, please contact SCD’s Garth Davis at 535-7274, ext.212.
Jan 04 , 2013
Brian Sjothun and Greg McKown from the City of
Medford, accept a $14,732 incentive check from
Avista’s Steve Vincent for energy conservation work
involving R19 roof insulation at a city service center
building. The work is estimated to save 4,209 therms
of natural gas and $4,156.85 annually for the city.
Avista partners with customers in reducing natural gas use through cost effective energy conservation projects by providing cash rebates. The City of Medford continues to be a leader in the public sector in reducing operating expenses and its long term use of energy.
Avista recently presented the city with an incentive check for $14,732 for energy conservation work involving R19 roof insulation at a service center building. The work is estimated to save 4,209 therms of natural gas and $4,156.85 annually for the city.
Unfortunately it is very common for conservation projects in public buildings to not bother with utility cash rebates. However, the city is a standout exception, said Avista Regional Business Manager Steve Vincent. This demonstrates the city’s fiscal prudence with public funds.
“Partnering with Avista also helps the company achieve its own annual energy conservation requirements established by the Oregon Public Utility Commission,” Vincent said.
Dec 26 , 2012
Households that are having trouble paying their heating bills this winter will receive help as the result of $226,000 in donations Avista and our employees made to Project Share (see news release).
An additional $100,000 is going to 19 human care service organizations in eastern Washington chosen by our CAREs representatives (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service).
“We know that the economy of our service territory continues to be depressed and that it is difficult for families to make ends meet. The organizations receiving these Project Share and CARES donations are an important safety net, and they provide important assistance that helps those most in need meet the costs of housing, food and medicine, and keeping their homes warm this winter,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp.
Project Share will receive $226,000 from Avista and its employees. The program, which is administered by SNAP in eastern Washington and by community action programs in other areas of our service territory, provides emergency grants to help families meet energy costs regardless of the fuel used to heat their home. In 2011, more than 2,100 households received emergency energy assistance through Project Share. The funds for this donation come from company profits and employee donations and are not included as a cost to customers in developing rates.
“This donation is another amazing example of Avista taking the initiative to support our neighbors during difficult times,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “We greatly value this collaborative effort that continues to be a vital benefit to our community. More homes will stay warm throughout the winter because of this.”
Additionally, Avista is partnering with 19 community service agencies in eastern Washington to make grants for energy assistance to qualifying Avista customers in need this winter.
Avista has contributed a total of $100,000 to the agencies for customers who have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources. The organizations were identified by Avista’s CARES representatives, who are specially trained and who work closest with our most vulnerable customers.
The funds for the CARES donations come from a state utility tax credit Avista receives that is associated with our low-income energy assistance programs.
Dec 19 , 2012
Avista can now count the renewable energy generated at Palouse Wind among the resources we use to meet our customers’ energy needs. Now in full commercial operations, the Palouse Wind project in Rosalia, Wash., is officially the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County and is expected to contribute to the local economy for years to come.
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, Avista and First Wind announced successful completion of construction of the project. Read our news release.
The 105 megawatt (MW) project will be included in Avista’s diverse resource portfolio and will have the capacity to generate enough renewable wind energy to power the equivalent of approximately 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes. This is the first wind project built in our service territory.
The project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines installed at the project site situated between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction, the Palouse Wind project infused more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of jobs.
Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and will take delivery of the power through a direct interconnect to our 230 kilovolt (kV) Benewah-to-Shawnee transmission line.
Palouse Wind helps us achieve our goal of meeting customers’ energy needs reliably and responsibly, while continuing our legacy of renewable energy. It’s good for our customers and communities to have the project right in our backyard and helps us keep our customers’ rates at some of the lowest in the country.
In addition, now that Palouse Wind is fully operational, Whitman County will receive approximately $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues, which can be used to lower tax rates, improve schools, maintain roads and enhance local services.
Dec 17 , 2012
$28,150 donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon
Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank
last fall. .
For some residents of the Pacific Northwest, feeding their families can be one of the biggest challenges they face each month. Forty-seven food banks in Avista’s service territory
will have a bit more money to stock their shelves in the months ahead as the result of grants issued by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation. A total of $28,150 has been donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon by Avista Corp.
and the Avista Foundation.
“Community food banks are providing vital safety-net services in the communities we serve. Through their buying power and relationships with food producers, the food banks are able to leverage donations like ours to bring several times their value to help stock the shelves for those in need,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp. “Helping limited income families and seniors meet their nutritional needs is an important part of our emphasis on providing assistance to reduce poverty in the communities served by Avista Utilities.”
In addition, Avista employees donated $8,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank during “Tom’s Turkey Drive,” a Thanksgiving event sponsored by KREM television. Avista Foundation matched that amount, for a total donation to Second Harvest of $16,000.
Funding for donations, other than employee gifts, comes from foundation funds and company profits. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.