Jun 20 , 2012

Aerial view of Post Falls Dam Spring 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.
Published: 6/20/2012  10:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 04 , 2012

Avista

 
 
Severe weather can strike at any time, which may have you wondering what you can do to prepare your home or business for a power outage. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe during a severe weather event:
 
  • Know how to report an outage. If your power is out, call us right away at 800-227-9187 or report it online at www.avistautilities.com. We have a mobile version of our site, which makes reporting easy for  mobile device users. You can also track power outages online or on a mobile device.  
  • Stay away from downed power lines. If you see a downed line, consider it to be energized and stay away from it. Call us right away to report any downed lines.
  • Remember your appliances. Turn off all the appliances you think were on before your power went out.
  • Unplug. Unplug your electronic equipment, including computers.
  • Keep it closed. Keep your refrigerator or freezer door closed as much as possible to keep the cool air inside.
  • Don’t grill indoors. Never use a grill indoors to prepare food.
  • Give yourself a visual cue.  Leave a light or radio on to let you know when you have service again.

More safety tips can be found online at www.avistautilities.com. Rest assured that during an outage event, Avista will be working day and night to restore your power. 

Published: 6/4/2012  4:51 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 01 , 2012

Scenic view of downtown Spokane, Washington

Customers continue benefiting from rebate and incentive programs to reduce energy use


 

Post by Anna Scarlett

Avista customers in Washington could see a decrease in their electric and natural gas rates beginning Aug. 1, if the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves the company’s request to reduce surcharges that fund the company’s electric and natural gas energy efficiency programs. 

 

The decreases are being requested to balance the amount of funding required for Avista to operate its energy efficiency programs, including the rebates and incentives paid to participating customers for installing energy saving measures. The requests are a part of Avista’s annual report to Washington regulators regarding the funding of the company’s energy efficiency programs.

 

If Avista’s requests are approved, electric customers in Washington would see an overall 1.9 percent decrease, or $1.47 a month for residential customers using an average of 989 kilowatt hours. Natural gas customers in Washington would see an overall 1.3 percent decrease, or a 79-cent per month reduction for residential customers using 68 therms. These tariff adjustments have no impact on company earnings.

 

Last year customers in Avista’s three-state service area received more than 43,000 rebates and incentives totaling almost $16 million. The energy savings are enough to power more than 5,300 Inland Northwest homes for a year and serve 2,300 homes with natural gas for a year, or almost 64,000 megawatt hours and 1.7 million therms of natural gas.

 

Of the rebates paid in 2011, more than 28,000 were to Washington customers totaling $11.4 million, more than 12,000 rebates to Idaho customers totaling $3.7 million, and Oregon customers received 2,300 rebates totaling $1.2 million. The most popular energy and cost-saving measures for residential customers included purchasing Energy Star ® appliances, installing high efficiency natural gas furnaces, and upgrading insulation. The average residential rebate for single family homes was $105.

Approximately $1.7 million was provided for weatherization for qualifying low-income customers in Washington and $595,000 for Idaho customers. An additional $40,000 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.

Related reading:

Published: 6/1/2012  2:07 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 30 , 2012
Cover of Shared Value Report
 
 
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 only. 
 
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.

 
Published: 5/30/2012  8:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 04 , 2012
Post By Laurine Jue

Smart Grid Web Portal

Thanks to new Smart Grid technology, approximately 6,500 Pullman customers can now access their real-time energy usage simply by logging onto their “My Avista” account. It’s the latest milestone in Avista’s Smart Grid Demonstration Project that’s underway in Pullman.

Avista has joined with regional partners, led by Battelle, to develop a smart grid demonstration project using matching stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The intent of the demonstration project is to show how smart grid technology can enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of energy delivery on a regional and national level.

The past two years have been spent designing, constructing and installing complex technology, including advanced meters, in the Pullman area that create the foundation for secure, two-way, wireless communication between customer meters and Avista.

As part of the demonstration project, Avista recently started a one-year study designed to test whether access to energy usage information has any potential impact on peoples’ behavior.

Approximately 6,500 randomly-selected customers in the Pullman area were given access to a special advanced meter web portal that lets them view their energy usage down to the hour, make adjustments and start saving energy based on their energy choices and behavior. They can see charts and graphs that track changes or trends and make more informed decisions about how to use energy. 

The remaining customers in the Pullman area will not have access to the special Advanced Meter Web Portal until April 2013 when the study period concludes.

Studies like this are helping Avista learn how new technologies can enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of energy delivery for all of our customers.
Published: 5/4/2012  3:15 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 23 , 2012
Ashland customer praises employees for going the extra mile

Guest Blog Post by Brian Taylor
Medford, Oregon Gas Operations Manager

Antique range
Antique range
In my position as Gas Operations Manager in Medford, I hear from customers quite a bit, which I enjoy. One of the best parts of my job is when a customer goes above and beyond to simply thank our employees for work they did at a home or business. Recently a customer called after two of our employees spent time at her home ensuring the safe operation of her very antique range.

It’s easy to talk about customer service, but it’s another thing to actually do it - Avista employees Marty Moore and Eddie Randles live it.

In mid-March, Moore was at the Ashland customer’s home. Her antique range had a leak that needed to be fixed. Given the age and model of the appliance Moore was concerned that the customer would have trouble finding a dealer who could provide service. He called a few on her behalf and found no takers. So, when Moore was called away on an emergency call, he called in Randles, who was working on some natural gas pipelines nearby, to help out. This avoided immediately shutting the customer off.

Randles was able to fix the small leak around the control body seal. He also cleaned and adjusted the pilot light while he was in there. The range was so old that the name plate was faded. Despite that, he was able to get enough information about the range to find a dealer in California who still stocks parts for it. This information just might come in handy in the future.

Here’s the best part. The customer called and spoke to two different Customer Service Representatives about the employees who visited her home.

“She was absolutely amazed with all [Moore and Randles] have helped her with today,” wrote one CSR.

Another CSR wrote, “The serviceman was very professional, friendly and went above and beyond what she expected. He paid attention to detail and helped her with things she didn’t expect, every little detail to help her get back in service . . . She is very happy with Avista.”

We do little fixes, like this one, for customers all the time.  If a customer needs something extra and we can provide it without too much trouble, we’ll go ahead and do it. For the customer in Ashland with the antique range, these fixes went a long way.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comments.
Published: 4/23/2012  4:31 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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