Aug 05 , 2013
30 Year Anniversary
 
Posted by Jessie Wuerst
 
Avista is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Kettle Falls Generating Station this month with an open house.  To celebrate, the public is invited to an open house on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 9:00am - 11:00am at the Kettle Falls Generating Station 1151 U.S. Hwy 395 North, Kettle Falls, Wash.
 
Built in 1983, the Kettle Falls plant was the first utility-owned electric generating station of its kind in the U.S. constructed for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste, or biomass.  The award-winning plant, combined with Avista’s legacy hydroelectric power projects, has contributed to Avista being listed among the greenest utilities in the country. The facility produces up to 61 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 46,000 homes.
 
While wood waste is just one of many resources that Avista employs throughout their system, the Kettle Falls facility is special.  It is a model of efficiency and innovation, and Avista’s secret is out.
 
The Association of Washington Business, Power Magazine, the U.S. Forest Service, and the state of Washington are among the many institutions that have recognized Kettle Falls for its contributions to industry and the environment.  With the dedication to environmental stewardship demonstrated by partnerships in the timber industry, Avista produces energy with a resource that is clean and abundant – renewable in the best sense of the word. 
 
With the support of legislators, the community and Avista employees, the Kettle Falls Generating Station is well-positioned to be a part of the region’s clean energy future.
 
Avista is pleased to be celebrating 30 years of the Kettle Falls Generating Station, which supports over 100 jobs, a strong tax base, a healthy economy, and a vibrant community. Avista is grateful for the relationships that have been built over 30 years.  Avista is proud of our history and excited about our future.
 
Published: 8/5/2013  9:42 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 17 , 2013
video here
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Just last week Avista, First Wind and Vestas, along with more than 100 invited guests officially dedicated the first wind farm built in Avista’s service territory – Palouse Wind. The day also marked the celebration of the facility’s 150,000 megawatt hour of energy produced since the farm opened in December 2012.

Watch the video to see the sights and sounds of the event.

On hand to kick off the event was Washington Governor Jay Inslee admired the lush landscape and said, “there’s probably not another place in the world today that’s producing more green electricity, surrounded by greener pea and wheat fields, generating more green economic activity for small rural communities, than right here at Palouse Wind.”

Since the Palouse Wind project went online, it has brought significant long-term tax revenue to Whitman County while generating enough clean energy to power the homes of about 30,000 Avista customers.

As the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County, the 105 MW project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines installed between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction the Palouse Wind project pumped more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of construction-related jobs and drove significant revenue for local businesses.

Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and is taking delivery of the power through a direct interconnection to Avista’s 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line. This is the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory and it is helping Avista achieve its goal of providing reliable energy to its customers at a reasonable cost, while helping meet Washington state renewable portfolio standards, now and into the future.

Published: 7/17/2013  10:09 AM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

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.

 
Published: 5/30/2013  9:46 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 29 , 2013
Mock incident response photos
 
 
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.
 
Published: 5/29/2013  12:06 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 27 , 2013
Posted by Debbie Simock
 
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.

More information on the approval is in this news release.
Published: 3/27/2013  8:03 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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.
Published: 2/6/2013  1:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 28 , 2012
Cabinet Gorge banner

This hydroelectric dam on the Clark Fork River is still a youngster at 60 years old
 
Whenever you flip a light switch, plug in an appliance, or turn on your furnace, you expect and receive energy on demand. Since the completion of our very first hydroelectric project in 1890, Avista’s dams have generated dependable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible power for our customers.

We’ve been celebrating the 60th anniversary of one of our youngest dams, Cabinet Gorge, throughout the year. Recently we had a banner produced that will hang in the control center at the dam. In November, Avista received special recognition from Idaho Lt. Governor Brad Little. The Lieutenant Governor presented a proclamation honoring the contribution of Cabinet Gorge to the region and the state of Idaho.

This year also marks the 14th year of successful, collaborative implementation of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources associated with our Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project. The agreement, signed in 1999 after several years of negotiation, resulted in a 45-year operating license from FERC to operate Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.

With growing development of renewable energy like wind and solar, which depend on variable fuel sources, our dams are even more important as a dependable source of energy. Water can be stored and hydropower plants can be fired up quickly to meet energy need when the wind isn’t blowing.
Published: 11/28/2012  11:09 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 15 , 2012
Post by Brandi Smith

snowy house
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.

Click here for a printable list to store in a handy location at your home or on your mobile device.
Published: 11/15/2012  1:56 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 02 , 2012
Q’emiln Park boat launch to close Nov. 5
 

Removal of a wooden intake gate at Post Falls Dam
A timber intake gate is removed from the Post Falls Dam in
August 2012. We’re replacing the lifting hoists and old timber
intake gates at the dam with modern lifting hoists and new
steel gates.
You may remember early this summer we announced a project to replace the lifting hoists and old timber intake gates at our Post Falls Dam on the Spokane River with modern lifting hoists and new steel gates. The project began in July and crews will continue to work on it into the winter until it’s completed. The dam needs ongoing maintenance and updates to keep it running safely and efficiently. The work is expected to update a system that is more than 100 years old in places, enhancing safety and increasing reliability and efficiency at the dam.

Currently we’re completing work on the first of the dam’s six intake gates.  This week we temporarily opened spill gates at the dam to test the operation of the first new gate and put the generating unit below it back into service. 

Seasonal closure of Q’emiln Park boat launch Nov. 5
The Q’emiln Park boat launch will be closed for the season beginning Monday, Nov. 5. The ramp is typically closed each year in mid-November due to weather conditions and dropping water levels.

The boat launch must remain closed for safety reasons whenever water is spilled through gates at the Post Falls Dam, which can be the case for much of the fall through spring. Generally, the ramp re-opens in the late spring or early summer, depending on the amount of inflows into Coeur d’Alene Lake.

As a result of Avista’s annual drawdown of Coeur d’Alene Lake, Spokane River levels above the dam will be approximately two and a half feet below the summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet on Nov. 5. Water levels may drop by as much as five additional feet by the end of January. These water levels are subject to change due to weather conditions.

Stay safe on the water
We’d like to remind you to always exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors.

The best way to get the most current 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.

 
Published: 11/2/2012  10:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 22 , 2012

Settlement provides more certainty for you to manage your energy costs over the next two years

Post by Anna Scarlett

Today we announced a settlement agreement with several parties on the electric and natural gas general rate requests we filed back in April. The settlement, if approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC), would mean a modest two-phase rate increase in electric and natural gas rates. The first would take effect Jan. 1, 2013 and the second on Jan. 1 of 2014.

Better yet, 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 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.

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

If the commission approves the settlement and you are an Avista electric customer, you would see two separate rate increases:

·      Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 989 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an increase of $1.20 per month, which equates to about 4 cents a day, for a revised bill of $78.69.

·      Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, if you use an average of 989 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an additional increase of $1.60 per month, or about 5 cents a day, for a revised bill of $80.29.

Here’s how the changes, if approved, would affect you as a natural gas customer:

·      Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the first 70 therms of your bill would actually cost a little less. This means an average monthly bill for 68 therms would decrease by about 38 cents to $60.37. For every therm you use over 70, you would see an increase of about 10 cents per month. So, if your usage is less than 70 therms a month, through energy efficiency efforts, for example, you will really see the benefit of this change.

·      Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, if you use an average of 68 therms a month, you would see an increase of 57 cents a month, or about 2 cents a day, for a revised monthly bill of $60.94.

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 natural gas industrial customers, take part and submit testimony and proposals 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 WUTC, Northwest Industrial Gas Users, Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities and The Energy Project, a low-income customer advocacy group. The Public Counsel Section of the Washington Office of the Attorney General and the Northwest Energy Coalition did not join in the Settlement Agreement. The WUTC sets the schedule for next steps, which include hearing testimony from the parties. For more information, see the WUTC website.

Here are a couple of other resources about how energy rates are set that you might find helpful.

WUTC video: What’s Up (and Down) with Energy Rates?

Avista Rates and Pricing: What’s Driving the Cost of Energy?

Published: 10/22/2012  8:05 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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