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!
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.
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.
Nov 06 , 2012
was recently honored with a special recognition award from the judges of the Green Washington Awards, sponsored by Seattle Business magazine
. Avista was also named to the list of the 50 greenest companies in the state of Washington.
Making the special award, magazine executive editor Leslie Helm said, “Avista, which has been providing power to much of eastern Washington and northwest Idaho since 1889, prides itself on its history of clean power generation. And it takes sustainability seriously, ranking as the nation’s third lowest emitter of CO2 (in pounds per megawatt hour) amongst investor-owned utilities. It’s known for being a proponent of renewable energy ... and the company has long championed the use of wind power. Avista is also renowned for building the nation’s first biomass-fueled power generation plant.”
Accepting the award on behalf of Avista, President Dennis Vermillion said, “We are very pleased to be recognized in the Green Washington Awards and to be among the top sustainability performers in Washington. Our employees are some of the brightest and most talented of any company I know.
“For us, doing business responsibly means doing it in ways that have the least impact on the environment and the most positive impact on our customers and communities. This kind of shared value
is the backbone of our company.”
Aug 31 , 2012
Avista’s aesthetic spills project benefits begin to unfold as water levels decrease
These two photos of Spokane River’s north channel
in Riverfront Park illustrate the difference Avista’s
aesthetic spills project makes. The one on the top
was taken before the project began, with river flows
at 500 cubic feet per second (CFS). The one on the
bottom was taken this month, with river flows at 300
What a difference an aesthetic flows project makes.
If you compare the river during this time of year to
years past, you will notice the falls are flowing with
water. These photos were taken from Post Street
Bridge facing east towards Canada Island in River
-front Park. The top photo was taken before the
project began, with river flows at 500 cubic feet per
second (CFS). The photo at the bottom was taken
this month, with river flows at 300 CFS. Even though
there is less water flow, restoring the riverbed to
more of a natural state provides many aesthetic
and environmental benefits.
If you live in or visit Spokane in the final weeks of summer, you might take the opportunity to go look at the north and south channels of the Spokane River flows
in Riverfront Park. If you compare the river during this time of year to years past, you will notice the falls are flowing with water.
Each summer, usually in July or August, river flows decrease substantially. In the past, this left the two channels dry with just a trickle of water flowing through the south channel.
In the summer of 2010, as part of the aesthetic spills requirement in our federal license to operate Upper Falls Dam, Avista and several stakeholder groups took part in a assessing test flows to determine whether permanent channel modifications could enhance the view of the river during periods of low river flow. These groups, including the City of Spokane
, Friends of the Falls
, Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club
, the Friends of the Centennial Trail
and The Sierra Club
were trying to learn whether the same or better, aesthetic effects could be achieved with 300 cubic feet per second (CFS) flowing through the two channels, than 500 CFS would without modifications.
During the aesthetic spill test, biologists also assessed the impact of potential channel modifications to fish and fish habitat in the river through the park and downstream.
The test was successful, and last year, Avista and its contractors, Land Expressions LLC
, gave the south and north channels a makeover to help restore the Spokane River’s beauty to a more natural state, the way it once was before early developers in Spokane cut into the bedrock to collect water during dry times. The enhancements, using “weirs"
that look like the natural bedrock in the river, spread water more evenly throughout the Upper Falls’ two channels that run north and south of Canada Island. Combined, they produce an aesthetically pleasing flow of water that viewers can enjoy throughout the year.
“Avista and our contractors took a new and creative approach to restoring the falls to a more natural state,” said Spokane River License Manager Speed Fitzhugh. “We matched the color, shape and texture of the weirs to that of the bedrock to produce seamless, natural looking river flows. As far as we’ve been able to determine, it’s the first project of its kind in North America.”
You may remember this year we had a longer than normal run-off season, with high, fast river flows in the Spokane and other area rivers. Thanks to the collaborative effort of Avista, our stakeholders and contractors, visitors to downtown Spokane no longer have to look at a dry riverbed during the warm summer days.
Protecting natural resources and operating our dams responsibly helps us continue to generate clean, reliable and cost-effective hydroelectric power for our customers. Last year’s aesthetic spills project on the Spokane River has improved the scenery in downtown Spokane and recreated habitat for fish, birds, and other local wildlife, something that we can all be proud of for generations to come.
If you pig out in the park this weekend, check out the falls
If you happen to visit Riverfront Park for Pig Out in the Park or for any other event or reason, you can check out the falls yourself. KXLY’s Jeff Humphrey covered the aesthetic spills project in this week’s news and interviewed Avista’s Spokane River License Manager, Speed Fitzhugh.
Aug 30 , 2012
When you think about how your electricity is generated you probably think it comes mainly from hydropower
. But did you know that Avista also uses natural gas as a fuel to generate electricity? In fact, it makes up 36% of our company owned electric power plants
. Natural gas generation is a dependable source of energy because the fuel can be stored to generate electricity anytime, and it has about half the carbon emissions of other fossil fuels, such as coal.
Avista and Portland General Electric co-own a combined cycle natural gas plant called Coyote Springs, located in Boardman, Oregon. The plant has 2 main generation units, and Avista owns Unit 2.
A combined cycle plant has a gas turbine and a steam unit all in one. These types of units are considered very efficient because they use the waste heat from the gas turbine to create steam, instead of exhausting it back into the atmosphere.
Unlike a simple cycle gas plant, which can be fired up quickly to meet the electricity generation needs of customers, the combined cycle plant at Coyote Springs is considered a “base load” facility because the natural gas generator needs to run consistently in order to provide heat for the steam generator.
Like a car, there are certain maintenance activities that need to take place after a number of years. This year, unit 2 had its first scheduled major maintenance since the unit went in service in 2002.
The project involves overhauling the natural gas and steam generators in unit 2. From start to finish, the project takes approximately six weeks to complete and a great deal of collaboration and teamwork.
The end result of the maintenance is that Unit 2 at Coyote Springs will continue to have the capacity to generate an average of 280 megawatts of power for our customers – that’s enough electricity for just over 210,000 homes.
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.”
Aug 01 , 2012
Partnership formed to manage approximately 2,000 acres of Avista and DNR property around Nine Mile Dam and Lake Spokane
State Parks will now manage Avista’s Nine Mile
Recreation Area as part of its Riverside State Park
operations. We expect this to improve your recreation
experiences at this and our other facilities.
DNR’s Lake Spokane Campground, which includes
campsites, a boat launch, picnic and swimming areas,
will be open longer to extend the recreation season,
from April 15 through Oct. 15. In the future, the
campground will be also expanded as part of the
Avista owns and operates five federally-licensed hydroelectric facilities on the Spokane River – Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake. Besides generating clean, reliable hydropower, these dams provide an abundance of recreation opportunities. As part of our 50-year federal license to operate our Spokane River hydroelectric facilities, we’re committed to working with agencies in Washington and Idaho to expand, enhance and preserve recreation opportunities related to our dams.
As part of this commitment, we’ve developed multi-year plans for recreation on and around Lake Spokane, the Spokane River, and Coeur d’Alene Lake, which include the following:
• Improving existing campgrounds, boat facilities, trails, and scenic overlooks
• Developing new recreation facilities and interpretive displays
• Increasing access for individuals with disabilities
• Partnering with others to operate and maintain recreation facilities in a cost-effective and responsible manner
We’ve already started working towards these goals. Today Avista and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a partnership
to manage approximately 2,000 acres of Avista and DNR property around Nine Mile Dam and Lake Spokane (also known as Long Lake). Read the news release.
State Parks will now manage Avista’s Nine Mile Falls and Lake Spokane Recreation areas and DNR’s Lake Spokane Campground as part of its Riverside State Park operations. This includes Nine Mile Recreation Area and our Long Lake Dam day-use area, as well as south shore trailheads during non-hunting seasons. State Parks will also manage Avista’s scenic overlooks at Long Lake and Nine Mile dams, and some of the new recreation facilities we plan to develop in 2013. These include a boat take-out above Nine Mile Dam, a boat put-in below Long Lake Dam, and 10 boat-in-only campsites on Lake Spokane.
Avista is also assisting State Parks in the management of DNR’s Lake Spokane Campground, which includes campsites, a boat launch, picnic and swimming areas. The campground and boat launch will be open longer to extend the recreation season, from April 15 through Oct. 15. In the future, the campground will be also expanded as part of the agreement.
We expect this partnership to increase and improve recreation, particularly around Lake Spokane, with services that include better security, maintenance, and ongoing upkeep. However, people recreating at these sites will now need a Discover Pass for day use, and may have to pay other state camping and boat launch fees as required. The Discover Pass fees help offset the high cost of maintaining recreation facilities for public use, and eliminate future potential fees that Avista may otherwise have to charge users of these facilities.
The good news is, for those of you who already have a Discover Pass, you’re getting a lot more for your investment in the local area. If you haven’t purchased a pass yet, doing so will help to ensure you have the best experience possible, whether you’re hiking, boating, camping, fishing, or just out for a day of picnicking and swimming. State Parks offers passes that reduce or waive camping and launch fees for limited-income senior citizens, disabled veterans, foster parents and people with disabilities. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov
Jul 25 , 2012
Montana Fish and Game Biologist Joe Huston and WWP biologist Tim Vaughn (right) prepare brown trout eggs for
planting in 1966, as part of ongoing efforts to improve local sport fishing.
At Avista we talk a lot about our legacy and commitment to environmental stewardship. Tim Vaughan, Washington Water Power (WWP) retiree who passed away earlier this month at the age of 95, was instrumental in helping to build that legacy at Avista. He also left a legacy of his own - the importance of relationships and a passion for nature and the outdoors.
Vaughan was a pioneer of natural resource protection, and has been recognized as the one of the first biologists in the country hired by a power company to address the impact of dams on habitat and fish and wildlife. After first working as a consultant to WWP during the construction of Cabinet Gorge Dam in the early 1950s, Vaughan used his relationship-building skills to successfully show WWP leadership the need to hire a biologist on a permanent basis. Thus began Vaughan’s 25-year career at Avista – first as a founding member of the Environmental Affairs department, and later as manager of the department.
Through partnerships with agencies such as Idaho Fish and Game, Vaughan worked to creatively and jointly reach resource-preservation goals. Bob Anderson, former director of Avista’s Environmental Affairs department and a long-time friend of Vaughan said, “Tim lived the example of respecting others and building collaborative relationships. That’s just how he was, and it set the stage for how we’ve carried out big efforts like hydro relicensing.”
Today, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of generating power at Cabinet Gorge, Avista employees in the Environmental Affairs department work toward the same goals Vaughan envisioned long ago. Further, environmental stewardship is deeply embedded in our company culture.
Bruce Howard, director of Environmental Affairs, expects this type of respect for our environment to continue far into the future. “Tim’s legacy is now ours to carry on,” said Howard. And Avista employees will do just that.
Jul 23 , 2012
A peek at Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan for the Spokane River Project
36 years ago, our nation’s bird and symbol of freedom was placed on the endangered species list. Today, the birds are rebounding again across the country and locally.
Avista’s Terrestrial Resource Specialist, David Armes, is in charge of implementing Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan – something we are required to do as part of our federal license to operate our Spokane River Project’s five hydroelectric facilities.
Our contribution to the protection of the Bald Eagle includes annual surveys and monitoring of Bald Eagle nests located near the Spokane River Project area. This includes Coeur d’Alene Lake and its three tributaries; the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and St. Maries Rivers as well as the Spokane River and Lake Spokane.
While conducting surveys we look to see if the nests are occupied, evaluate the success of the nests and observe the fledging period, a time when newborn Eagles are preparing to leave the nest.
The information we gather is shared with natural resource agencies, such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. The information helps shape future efforts for protecting Bald Eagles in the area.
Avista is proud to support the conservation effort of our nation’s bird and will continue our legacy of environmental stewardship and reliability.