Oct 02 , 2013
We want customers to be aware of a telephone scam making its way across the country.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today warned utility consumers of a growing telephone scam.
The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers.
Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
If you receive a call like this, please hang up immediately and call us at 1-800-227-9187 to let us know. You are also advised to call your local law enforcement agency to report it.
Consumers are also urged to report suspicious calls to both the UTC at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nov 15 , 2012
We’re lucky to live in an area that experiences very few power outages related to storms. But, that doesn’t mean we’re immune to the treachery of old man winter. A heavy build-up of ice and snow on power lines can cause wires to snap and utility poles to topple. Falling trees and tree limbs covered in ice can bring down power lines, cause outages, and threaten property, even lives.
While it is never our intent for you to experience a lengthy outage, being prepared and knowing what to do during an extended power outage is essential. Rest assured that our crews work diligently to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. Here are six must-know tips on how to prepare for a winter power outage:
1. Keep the following emergency supplies on hand: flashlights with fresh batteries, a battery operated radio, matches, candles, first-aid kit, a manual can opener, water and nonperishable food.
2. Have a cell phone or land-line telephone. Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Program Avista’s customer service number into your phone (1-800-227-9187). You can report and track the status of an outage online at www.avistautilities.com
3. Find out ahead of time how to manually open and close any electric garage doors, security doors or gates.
4. Identify the most insulated room in your home in advance; that's where you and your family can gather if you need to stay warm.
5. Protect sensitive equipment such as computers, DVD players and televisions by installing surge protectors or other power protection devices. This measure can prevent a sudden surge of electricity from damaging your equipment.
6. Make sure your smoke alarms and CO2 detectors have fresh batteries.
During an outage, you’ll want to be prepared as well. Be sure to:
• Turn off electric appliances as well as lights that were in use when the power went off. This will help prevent power surges when the electricity is restored.
• Avoid heating your home or cooking indoors with an outdoor grill or other items not intended for indoor use. They can create deadly fumes if used inside.
• To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
• Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.
• Leave one light switch on so you know when your electricity has been restored.
• Assist family members or neighbors who may be vulnerable if exposed to low temperatures for extended periods.
• Once your power is back online, turn on your front porch light. This can help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power.
When outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are active electric lines: Stay away, warn others to stay away, and immediately contact Avista at 1-800-227-9187. If traffic lights are out of service, treat the intersection like a four-way stop.
For more safety tips visit us online.
for a printable list to store in a handy location at your home or on your mobile device.
Oct 09 , 2012
Area residents will learn about energy efficiency, managing their home energy bills and more at the free Avista Energy Fair 2012. It will be held in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, October 10 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Harding Family Center, 411 North 15th Street.
Avista employees and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about the following:
-Energy Efficiency – See low-cost and no-cost efficiency demonstrations for solutions like rope caulking, door sweeps and window plastic. Free samples will be handed out.
-Bill Assistance – Avista customer service representatives can answer billing questions, provide information about payment options and refer to energy assistance programs. You can also learn how to use Avista's free online Bill Analyzer.
-Community Assistance – Avista and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about energy assistance, weatherization and other topics.
-Kids Meet Wattson – Stop by and see Wattson the Energy Watchdog! Kids activities include crafts, dancing and interactive games.
Parking is free and there will be complimentary food and beverages, door prizes and activities for the kids at most locations. Avista will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations that are requested for individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Community Development Consumer Affairs Office at (509) 495-8024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
if accommodations are needed.
Aug 16 , 2012
Avista to purchase more CNG bi-fuel vehicles each year
Avista has a long tradition of being a wise steward of the environment. Recently, the Fleet Department aligned those goals when it comes to the vehicles we purchase.
“We are currently underway with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) initiative where we’re purchasing approximately 10-15 CNG Bi-Fuel vehicles a year,” said Fleet Manager, Chris Schlothauer. “Along with the vehicles, our existing CNG fueling infrastructure is currently being updated with bigger and better stations. These stations will accommodate our increased load from company-owned vehicles, along with the ability to provide this alternative fuel to the public at some point in the future.”
The latest addition to Avista’s alternative fuel fleet is a hybrid service truck that was built for Spokane Electric Line Operations.
The hybrid technology in this unit is a Jobsite Energy Management System. How it works: When the truck arrives at the worksite, the operator engages the Power Take-off (PTO) as normal but instead of the engine continuing to run, the engine is shut off and batteries provide the power to run the hydraulics in the boom. If the system gets below a certain voltage, the engine will automatically turn on to recharge the batteries and then will shut off again to go back on stored battery power. This is a particularly important feature, because operating on battery power, it will have very little noise impact in the residential neighborhoods where it typically works long hours.
“We’re very excited to implement both of these alternative fuel technologies in our fleet, said Schlothauer. “Both the CNG and hybrid technology help us in reducing our carbon emissions along with saving fuel dollars over the long run. As we continue to move forward, we’ll look at other alternative fuel opportunities that align with Avista’s focus on sustainable business practices and environmental stewardship, along with the operational benefits to the departments that use them.”
Jun 20 , 2012
School’s out and the weather is finally beginning to warm, which will have many of you making summer river and lake recreation plans. Before you head out for fun on the water, we would like to provide you with information about current river flows and lake levels, as well as our plans for summer operations at Post Falls Dam.
The amount of snow in the mountains continues to be well above normal, because the cool weather has slowed the snow melt. At the beginning of June, Avista began closing spill gates at Post Falls Dam. However, above normal June rainfall has again pushed Lake Coeur d’Alene above its summer elevation. Avista has had to re-open all spill gates and current flows in the Spokane River are more than twice the volume we would normally expect this time of year.
With snowpack still over 200 percent of normal for the Spokane River basin, and a forecast of cooler and wetter than average weather, the runoff is expected to continue well into the summer.
Avista will likely be spilling excess water over the spillways at Post Fall Dam until after the Fourth of July holiday this year. Because of the open spill gates, the river upstream of Post Falls Dam will continue to be lower than normal until after the runoff season, and the City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park will not open until after July 4th. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and mid-July. The median date for closing the gates is June 22.
Avista operates our hydroelectric facilities with a focus on several different objectives:
Meeting customer demand with reliable energy service
Operating safely and efficiently
Complying with local, federal and state regulations and laws
Being good environmental stewards
Providing recreation opportunities
Safety on the river
As always, we ask you to exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors. The water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating on or near a lake or river at risk for hypothermia, even in warmer weather. Here is some other important safety information for your consideration:
Always wear a lifejacket on the water.
Obey all safety and warning signs.
Never fish, play or anchor your boat below a dam.
Sudden discharges can increase water flows in a hurry.
Don’t cross the boater safety cable above a dam. The current could pull you through a spill gate or drag you under water near a powerhouse.
Watch overhead clearances like cables and power lines when sailing.
The best way to get the latest information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River is to call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.
In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043.
The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.
You can also check current river and lake levels on our website. 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 changing water conditions.
For more information on lake and river levels, please call Pat Maher at (509) 495-4283.