Jul 11 , 2012
One of the original operators of Cabinet
Gorge Dam, 90-year old Clyde Meredith,
who retired in 1984, rode alongside
Cabinet's current Chief Operator.
Avista employees and the community of Clark Fork celebrated our Independence Day and commemorated Cabinet Gorge 60th anniversary at the annual Clark Fork, Idaho - Fourth of July celebration last week.
Several of Avista’s hydro operations and environmental resources employees and their families, a line truck, electric safety demonstration trailer and Bull Trout education trailer took part in the community’s annual Fourth of July parade.
One of the original operators of Cabinet Gorge, 90-year old Clyde Meredith, who retired in 1984, was also in the parade. He rode alongside Cabinet Gorge’s current Chief Operator, Don Wells in Clark Fork License Manager Tim Swant’s 1965 Pontiac LeMans.
Avista helped support the community celebrations and fireworks, and donated a trailer-mounted BBQ to the Clark Fork Booster Club so they have a means of fundraising for many years to come.
We’re proud to be a part of the community of Clark Fork for the past 60 years. Happy Birthday to America, and to Cabinet Gorge.
Jun 08 , 2012
Safety is a family affair in Oregon
Avista’s commitment to safety extends beyond our workday and jobsite – all the way down to our grandkids. Last Saturday Avista’s Eddie Randles recruited his 7-year-old granddaughter Arianna to help at Safety Saturday at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford, Oregon.
Randles started the day with a Tailboard Meeting – just like employees who go out into the field to fix gas leaks or build new pipelines. (That’s her focused, arms-crossed look in the picture.) The detailed briefing taught Arianna all of the natural gas display items for the event and how they work.
“She even installed my pressure gauge build-up on the gas meter and found a leak with the Rover,” Randles said. “She was so versed in the different parts of the meter she was able to describe it to the Red Cross gentleman [see photo].”
The event was free and open to the public. Dozens of organizations provided information and exhibits, from document spreading to fire prevention to electric and gas safety.
Thanks Eddie and Arianna for going the extra mile for safety!
Jun 06 , 2012
Imposters claim President Obama providing credits or applying payments to utility bills
Avista and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana are warning customers to be alert to a scam that has impacted utility customers in several states across the country. According to reports, imposters are claiming that President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills in an attempt to obtain social security numbers and bank routing numbers.
Utilities impacted by the scam also report that scammers have visited customers in person, posted fliers and used social media and texting to send this false message.
“We all should be vigilant in protecting our personal information at all times. That’s why customers are reminded that Avista does not contact customers seeking personal information, and it is our policy to safeguard any information that we collect during the course of providing electric and natural gas services,” said Mike Broemeling, Avista’s director of customer service.
“You have the power and the right to safeguard your personal information and your home. Customers should trust their instincts and feel empowered to hang up the phone or request a stranger to leave their property if approached about scams like this,” said Chelsea Dannen, public relations and media specialist for BBB.
Avista and the Better Business Bureau offer the following tips to avoid falling for this scam and others:
• Never provide your social security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking.
• If you receive a call claiming to be your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.
• Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or have reported a utility problem. Also, ask utility employees for proper identification.
• Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics over the phone for information or in person to get into your home.
May 30 , 2012
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers and employees that they want more information on how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community impact. We’re glad you asked!
That information and more is available in our fourth annual report on our performance, “Together We Will Build Shared Value,”
now online at avistautilities.com.
Our primary mission is to provide the energy you need for your life. The back story is all about 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. For example, in the Utility Operations section we talk about how Avista must meet state-mandated energy savings targets. As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published online
We’ve made PDF files available of the entire report and four of its sections for your convenience in sharing the report 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
. We want to hear from you about how – together – we can continue to build shared value.
May 24 , 2012
One of the best strategies for pulling out of the longest, deepest recession of our time is to enable broad-based innovation and entrepreneurship. That’s why we’re partnering with Spokane Community College (SCC) to extend their unique entrepreneurship program
to other colleges throughout the region we serve. The Avista Business Entrepreneurship Network, in partnership with SCC and up to four other regional community colleges, will provide a continuum of education and ongoing support for budding entrepreneurs in Avista’s service territory. This network leverages the successful curriculum established by the Avista Center for Entrepreneurship at SCC in 2007. To date, three additional community colleges have agreed to participate in the network and create entrepreneurship programs modeled after SCC, including Rogue Community College (Medford, Ore.), North Idaho College (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), and Walla Walla Community College-Clarkston (Wash.).
The partnership created by the Avista Business Entrepreneurship Network will engage more people, leverage more resources, and accelerate quicker outcomes for greater impact in business development and job creation. Much like our investments to assure reliable energy delivery for our customers, this network is an investment in our region’s future prosperity.
The Avista Center for Entrepreneurship at each participating college will receive an investment of $100,000 over three years to support the initial implementation of the program. These funds come from profits that Avista is allowed to earn and are not included in customer rates. Each college foundation will pledge matching dollars to help ensure the long-term financial sustainability of their respective program. SCC faculty will facilitate the curriculum development process with involvement from members of the Business Entrepreneurship Network.
In addition, Avista will create a micro-enterprise loan fund for students who successfully complete the program and create new businesses. Each college will also participate in recruiting a cadre of mentors, advisors and professional services providers who will provide ongoing business support. The SCC program is graduating its fifth class this June. The first classes in each of the other Avista Centers for Entrepreneurship are expected to begin in the fall of 2013.
Mar 23 , 2012
46 new trail lights a result of new natural gas pipeline serving Clarkston area
The lights on the left are a few of the 46 new lights
Avista installed on the Greenbelt Trail in Clarkston.
Avista recently installed the last of 46 safety lights along the Greenbelt Trail in Clarkston, Wash. The new lights turn on at dusk and help illuminate the popular recreation area. The project was born out of Avista’s new 2.8-mile natural gas pipeline extension in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley that will help reinforce gas service to Avista customers in the Clarkston area.
In order to install the new pipeline, Avista needed access to land managed by the Army Corp of Engineers. As in-kind consideration in lieu of fees for conducting this project, Avista agreed to install 46 lights along the trail from Chestnut Beach to Swallows Boat Ramp parking lot, at an approximate cost of $71,500.
“The new natural gas pipeline in Clarkston is great for the reliability of our service to customers in the area,” said Avista Regional Business Manager Mike Tatko. “But the Greenbelt Trail lighting project is another very visible benefit to Avista customers and all area residents who use the trail."
The natural gas pipeline project began in mid-July 2011 and was in service by December 2011, just in time to provide heat to homes and businesses during the colder winter months. The lighting work began in December 2011 and was completed on March 16, 2012.
Avista owns and will maintain the lights along the trail.
Feb 28 , 2012
Anne Marie Axworthy, director of Consumer Affairs and Avista
Foundation Executive Director Kristi Meyer, guide Avista’s
philanthropic activities, including the support of educational
programs that garnered the company the “Child Advocate of
the Year” honors from Providence Sacred Heart Children’s
Over 300 people came together in a banquet room in Spokane last week to have a little fun, eat a little candy and raise some serious money for the Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital to expand pediatric services. As part of that celebration, Avista was recognized as a “Child Advocate of the Year,” one of four honors given out that day and the first and only one given to a corporation in the history of the award.
In granting the award, Sacred Heart host Kathy Maurer said, “Avista Corporation, through the Avista Foundation, has been a community leader in supporting K-12 education, particularly in the fields of science, math and technology; and higher education, including scholarships. The Foundation provides college scholarships for engineering, IS and the crafts; increases the pipeline of kids seeking engineering and technical careers by increasing interest in math, science and technology; and provides opportunities for underserved kids to seek a college education.”
“This is a wonderful honor for Avista and for the employees who are the arms and legs and talent of our company in the communities we serve,” said Anne Marie Axworthy, director of Consumer Affairs and president of the Avista Foundation. “We’re all committed to working with organizations that support opportunities for children to have dreams, and, importantly, to help make them come true as they grow into contributing members of society.”
Jan 18 , 2012
Highlighting community agencies in our service territory
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.
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
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.
Jan 17 , 2012
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.
Jan 04 , 2012
Employees work fast and give generously to bring Christmas to a customer in need
An Avista employee cut down a Christmas
tree from their own property to give to the
customer, along with donated lights and
Within 24 hours, the Customer Service
department raised more than $400 from
employee donations, which were delivered
in this gift basket.
As a single father who had struggled for a long time after his divorce, Avista Customer Service Representative Steven Schmitt was greatly impacted recently after taking a call from a single dad of two, who was struggling to pay the bills. There was no Christmas in sight for this family – not even a tree. But Schmitt and his co-workers didn’t just stand by and watch Christmas slip away - they sprang into action and brought Christmas to the customer.
The customer explained to Schmitt, that over the last six months, he had lost everything: his home, car, wife and job. He was having a hard time “catching his breath.” He had started a new job and just needed a little extra time to catch up.
“For some reason, this phone call really struck something in me,” Schmitt said. “I remember a time where, if it hadn’t been for the help of family and friends, I was almost the one telling my son he wasn’t going to get a Christmas. No parent should ever have to tell a child that.”
Schmitt wanted to give this customer something he himself was given in a time of need, a warm and bright Christmas for his children.
Schmitt and others in Customer Service were able to work with the customer on a payment arrangement for his energy bill and get the customer in contact with SNAP and some Project Share funds to get the his past due amount paid. SNAP also set him up for an appointment in January for further energy assistance.
That took care of the bill, but there was still no Christmas for his family.
“I wanted them to have a Christmas and knew we had to act fast,” Schmitt recalls. “I sent an email to all my coworkers in Customer Service, explaining the situation and asked if they could help somehow. I work for a wonderful, generous company where the employees are second to none.”
Within 24 hours, the Customer Service department raised more than $400 from employee donations. Schmitt used the funds to buy a bus pass, some gift certificates to local stores and a housewarming gift certificate to help with some of the bill. All the items were put together in a gift basket that included some Avista fleece blankets and water bottles.
An Avista employee even cut down a Christmas tree from their own property to give to the customer, along with donated lights and holiday decorations. Schmitt and a co-worker delivered the gift basket, Christmas tree and decorations to the family the Tuesday before Christmas. It was nothing less than an emotional and enlightening experience for everyone involved. There were a few grateful tears shed during the visit.
According to Schmitt, the customer was extremely grateful, and sent his deepest thanks and gratitude for all the caring hearts at Avista Utilities.
“I am proud to say that I work with an amazing group of people,” Schmitt said. “I thank everyone for their compassion and generosity this holiday season. We were able to make this a happy holiday for a father and his two children.”
If you are in need, we want to hear from you
Avista offers services for customers
such as comfort level billing, payment arrangements and Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Services (CARES), which provide assistance to special-needs customers through referrals to area agencies and churches for help with housing, utilities, medical assistance and other needs. We want to hear from you before you get behind on your bill – just give us a call. You can even make payment arrangements online.