May 23 , 2012
Post By Brandi Smith
The 811 Call Before You Dig, Damage Prevention Bike made its way through Spokane on May 18 and 19 to help us spread the word about the importance of calling 811 before you dig. The custom chopper revved up a lot of attention as Avista, in partnership with One Call Concepts and the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council featured the bike at three important community events. The Spokane Shock game on Friday night (congrats Shock on a nice win!), the Lilac Festival Annual Car Show and the Torch Light Parade in downtown Spokane on Saturday night.
One Call Concepts, Inc. commissioned Paul Jr. Designs to build the 811 Bike to help promote awareness of the importance of preventing damage to underground facilities. In 2011, for every 1,000 utility locates performed in Avista’s service territory, 7.9 instances of utilities being dug into occurred. This is much higher than the national average, which is 3.7 per 1,000 utility locates. Avista’s goal is to reduce the amount of dig-ins to our underground lines by 10 percent. Help us continue to spread the word about the importance of calling 811 before you dig.
Apr 23 , 2012
Ashland customer praises employees for going the extra mile
Guest Blog Post by Brian TaylorMedford, Oregon Gas Operations Manager
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.
Apr 20 , 2012
By knowing what’s below, contractors and homeowners are making wise decisions
Summit Group, Inc.
A landscape design, construction and maintenance company
Digging in the dirt has been a part of my daily life for the last 29 years I have been in business. As the owner of a full-service landscape company, safety, as you can imagine is a huge focus in my line of work.
Landscaping in the Spokane and Couer d’Alene region is a seasonal operation which means tight schedules and deadlines. It is important for my company to have clear lines of communication between the project manager and crew, the homeowner, the general contractor and/or subcontractor and the utility locate company. In fact, Clearwater Summit Group
is never bashful about calling in a utility locate. One wrong move can compromise the safety of our employees as well as cost us time, money and credibility with the homeowner or general contractor.
In order to maximize our efficiency and safe operations, we have a clearly defined process for calling in utility locates. Our one rule of thumb is to never assume anything. If there is a doubt, we encourage our employees to voice their concerns to the project manager.
Since April is National Safe Digging Month, we are making it our mission at Clearwater Summit Group is to educate our customers about using the 811 Call Before you Dig system. Many of our clients will add to their landscape year after year and we want them to be aware of how important it is to know what’s below the surface of their yards before they embark on any DIY projects. Please help us and Avista
spread the word about the importance of using the 811 system
A message about 811 from Avista
We are proud to post messages from members of the community who are interested in helping us spread the word about the importance of using the free 811 utility locate system. Safety and reliability are top priorities for customers and that’s important when it comes to natural gas. Last year there were 552 customer or contractor dig-ins to Avista’s underground natural gas lines. That’s 7.9 dig-ins for every 1,000 locates which is higher than the national average of 3.7. Avista’s goal is to reduce the number of dig-ins in 2012 by 10 percent to increase public safety and reduce costs.
Apr 02 , 2012
April is National Call Before You Dig month
"Those boots are made for digging and that’s
just what they’ll do, but one of these days if you
don’t call 811" . . . OK, so song lyrics don’t really
fit here. Call 811 two days before digging to
locate underground utility lines.
It’s April and that can mean oone thing. Yep, it’s National Call Before You Dig month.
To mark the month, the governors of Washington, Idaho and Oregon have again issued proclamations for their respective states recognizing April as Safe Digging Month and encouraging citizens to call the 811 one-call service two days in advance for free locates of underground utilities lines.
Not calling before starting those spring projects that involve digging could mean injury, damages to utilities and service disruptions, and potential fines and repair costs. A number of communications are planned this month to help make sure customers and contractors know the importance of calling 811 or going online at www.callbeforeyoudig.org
to request a locate of underground lines.
Safety and reliability are top priorities for customers and that’s important when it comes to natural gas. Last year there were 552 customer or contractor dig-ins to Avista’s underground natural gas lines. That’s 7.9 dig-ins for every 1,000 locates which is higher than the national average of 3.7. Avista’s goal is to reduce the number of dig-ins in 2012 by 10 percent to increase public safety and reduce costs.
Mar 21 , 2012
Avista worked with crews for Northern Pipeline to relocate almost 2,000 feet of six-inch high pressure main in White City, Oregon over the last month. Work like this helps create reliable service for Avista natural gas customers.
This particular project, which shows your rate dollars at work, is estimated to cost around $250,000. These photos show some of the progress happening in the shadow of Mt. McLoughlin.
Mar 15 , 2012
Crews brave the cold to bring reliable service to you in $1.4 million project
If you’ve traveled along Highway 95 in North Idaho by Silverwood this winter, you may have seen Avista natural gas crews working alongside the busy highway. We wanted to let you know what they are up to. Our crews are relocating and increasing capacity for six miles of natural gas pipeline to accommodate a newly constructed highway.
The Idaho Department of Transportation is reconstructing a portion of Highway 95 from approximately Chilco to Athol. The highway will expand from two to four lanes, which is great for safety and traffic, but means Avista’s existing 3-inch natural gas pipeline needs to move to a new right-of-way on the east side of the road.
Avista is expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 3 to 6 inches too. Expanded capacity helps serve existing customer needs and helps prepare our infrastructure for the future. The estimated cost for this project is around $1.4 million. Part of our requests for customer rate adjustments typically includes infrastructure work like this project.
You can see from the video that the crews are clearing a pathway, laying down 40-foot lengths of yellow plastic pipe, fusing them together and then burying the pipeline with sandy soil. The sandy soil protects the pipeline from being touched rocks or hard objects that could put pressure on the new pipeline. After the line is in place it will be pressure tested before being brought into service.
The project started in mid-December and should be completed by the end of March. One of the biggest hurdles the crews had to overcome in January and February was snow and frost. At times crews had to dig through 12 to 24 inches of frozen ground to make a trench that goes much deeper. Typically large projects like this aren’t completed during winter months, but Avista and other utilities agreed to do the work now to accommodate the Idaho Department of Transportation’s aggressive schedule. Snow means everything gets covered and can slow progress, but our crews are used to working through it.
For more stories about reliability, renewable energy, the environment, community, rates and more, visit us here at the Avista Blog
Much of this blog post was originally posted on Jan. 6 and 18.
Mar 14 , 2012
If you’re reading this post, you’re one of the thousands of people who stop by the Avista Blog each month. Yes, I wrote “thousands.” We’ve been at this blog thing for quite some time now. We launched in June of 2009 and have maintained a steady following here, on YouTube
. And we appreciate each and every one of you. But now we’ve added another channel – Facebook
We’re a tad bit late to the game on Facebook – just ask one of the 845 million people already using the site. Yet, I think we have some great content and stories to share that will make your experience on Facebook unique and informative, otherwise we’d be just another bland Facebook page. And that’s just not Avista.
Here are a few examples. When your lights go out during a storm and you’re sitting in the dark (briefly), you want to know that a crew is working on your restoration. We’ve created some videos to show what it looks like for a typical outage. What really goes into that process? On the natural gas side we’ve created videos and slide shows that feature our crews building new pipelines that serve you. These are projects you probably wouldn’t see any other way, but can get an up close view through Facebook.
But Facebook isn’t just about Avista showing you what we’re working on. You can ask general questions, make comments, share or like posts. It’s an ongoing conversation.
Brandi Smith (@AvistaBrandi
) and myself (@AvistaDan
) monitor the page and post content Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. If you use Facebook, you already know how this works and I encourage you to like our page and get the ball rolling.
Aug 31 , 2011
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know that we talk a lot about rates – it’s a topic we know is important to you. So we wanted to update you on a filing Avista made today for a slight decrease in natural gas rates for our Oregon customers.
This time of year Avista and other natural gas utilities in our region file what we call a PGA – Purchase Gas Cost Adjustment – with the public utility commissions. These required annual filings balance the cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista to serve customers with the amount included in rates.
Earlier this month we filed the annual PGA in Idaho
, and we’ll be filing in mid-September in Washington. The adjustment varies by state, and depending on a number of factors it could be a decrease, increase or no change at all.
Find out more in our news release
about our annual filing in Oregon today. If you have a question about rates, post a comment and we’ll be glad to get back with you.
May 19 , 2011
We created the above videos to help showcase some of the projects and pieces of infrastructure that are included in our recent rate filing in Washington. These filings can be complicated and I personally like seeing the visuals.
The first video, called Reliability and the Cost of Your Energy, focuses on infrastructure, which means ensuring you have reliable power. There are also videos that feature renewable hydropower projects at Nine Mile Falls and Noxon Rapids dams.
I also included a video I shot last year near Potlatch, Idaho. It isn’t directly tied to the Washington rate case, but it shows the extent a wind event can have on Avista’s infrastructure. The audio quality is pretty terrible thanks to the wind, so hang in there when you watch it.
Also in there is a video that explains how general rate cases work. And a safety video about how we work with first responders and natural gas.
The graphic to the right shows how the proposed Washington electric increase breaks down. We don’t have a graphic for the natural gas portion of the case, but a good deal of it is to recover the cost of a portion of the gas stored in the Jackson Prairie Storage facility.
Apr 11 , 2011
April is Safe Digging Month, according to the highest ranking officials in our area
The ground is no longer frozen, and in some parts of the Northwest, the grass is turning green again. Spring is fighting to immerge from a perpetual winter. But with the warmer weather comes the reminder that you’ve got a laundry list of yardwork projects to complete before the snow falls again. Those yard projects may just involve digging some holes in the ground – safely.
The governors of Idaho, Oregon and Washington have proclaimed April to be “Safe Digging Month.” Unfortunately it’s not a national holiday, and no, you can’t take off work to celebrate, but 811 is a free national number that you can call from any location.
I saw this tweet from KHQ earlier today. Seems fitting to go
with this post.
These official proclamations are a good reminder that pipes, cables and power lines can be buried dangerously close to the surface, and one dig with a shovel or backhoe could strike a natural gas or electric line. It’s not only the smart and safe thing to do to call 811 at least two working days before you plan to dig, it’s the law.
Just plan ahead a few days to ensure your safety and a the timely completion of your digging project.