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

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

Feb 24 , 2012
outage video
 
Post & video by Dan Kolbet
 
Avista crews battle the wind to restore power to North Spokane neighborhood on February 22, 2012. A tree branch came into contact with a power line, damaging the equipment. Crews made a temporary fix and routed power around the damaged insulator, then moved on to the next outage. When winds calm, we'll come back and fix the insulator permanently.
 
Our crews do this work for you, regardless of weather conditions. A neighboring homeowner even brought out a plate of treats for the crew - very nice of her.
 
The video is set to the tune of "Dust in the Wind," sad song, but fitting for such a windy, dusty day!
Published: 2/24/2012  3:15 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 21 , 2012
High winds are coming, track and report outages online and on mobile devices
 

High winds are in our forecast tonight and Wednesday and that could mean power outages. If your power does go out, did you know that you can easily report and track outages from a mobile device or online at www.avistautilities.com? 

Reporting an Outage
To report on outage from your mobile device, just enter www.Avistautilities.com in the browser. The Avista website detects when a customer is using a mobile browser and automatically redirects to our mobile website. Then click on Report Electric Outage. From a computer go to avistautilities.com, and click on the Power Outage link on the home page.

Tracking Outages
Tracking outages is just as easy, plus you’ll see real-time information on all reported Avista power outages. From a mobile device, enter www.avistautilities.com in the browser and then click View Outage Status. From a computer, click on the Power Outage link on the www.avistautilities.com homepage, then click List View.
 
Selecting List View will take to you to all reported electric outages in a geographic area. Click on an area and you’ll find out about each reported incident – number of customers affected, reason for the outage, date and time it was reported, and estimated restoration time.
 
Want to know the location of an outage? Click on Map View anywhere within the Power Outage site and you’ll see a map with red triangles indicating each reported outage. Hovering over a triangle or clicking on it will give you the details of the outage. Zooming in on a triangle will take you to street level where the boundaries of the outage are indicated in a shaded area.
 
Information on an outage is updated as it becomes available, so check our website to stay abreast on the latest information.
Published: 2/21/2012  4:51 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 23 , 2012

Moscow Pullman Daily News editorial says it all

Post by Brandi Smith

Below is an excerpt from a Moscow Pullman Daily News editorial published on Saturday, Jan. 21. We want to share it with you because we take great pride in serving our customers as quickly as possible. Whether it’s in the midst of a storm or just a normal day, you can always count on the people who work at Avista to respond quickly and efficiently no matter what the weather does. 

With snow, ice, power outages, remember to say ‘thanks’

Written by Lee Rozen/M-P Daily News

Odd that a snow and ice storm, downed trees and power failures can get us feeling thankful.

Living here on the Palouse gives us a lot to be thankful for.

But we think the quick response and fast recovery from the chaos of Thursday night and Friday morning deserves extra thanks.

In some places with privately owned power companies, the response might still be getting organized. But Thursday night, we were glad for every dollar we pay Avista in our monthly power bill. As the deluge of ice and snow brought down trees and branches on power lines and caused transformers to explode, Avista moved quickly and efficiently to repair the damage or route around it. And then do it again. And again. (continued/login required.)

A login to the Moscow Pullman Daily News website is required
to view the whole story here.

Published: 1/23/2012  11:34 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 18 , 2012
Slideshow
 
Youtube Video
An Avista electric crew spent a few hours today replacing a utility pole at our Beacon Substation in East Spokane. The original pole caught fire this morning, the exact cause was undetermined. The crew dug through roughly a foot of frost and frozen dirt around the pole before it could be removed. The new pole was placed in the same location as the original. The power lines were temporarily affixed to a nearby pole before being installed permanently on the new pole.

At 11 a.m., temperatures where hovering around 25 degrees with blowing snow at the job site. According to crew members the cold isn’t an issue, they are used to that. The trouble with snow is when they set down a piece of equipment to prep it for installation - the snow buries it in just minutes.

Preparing for an outage
Avista crews are prepared to work in any weather condition to restore your power as quickly and safely as possible. As the snow piles up around our service territory, we expect outages. You can count on Avista to get the lights back on right away, but it’s always best to be prepared at home. Check out these winter weather tips to keep in mind.
Published: 1/18/2012  2:22 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 30 , 2010
Customer shares her experience with Avista through e-mail and photos
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Crew slideshow
 
Often times we get e-mails from customers expressing thanks for the work our employees do. We try to share them in our internal communications newsletters and employee meetings – but this note and set of photos goes a little above and beyond what we typically receive and I think it’s worth sharing here on the Avista Blog. I really appreciate the customer who sent these in. Enjoy.

"I just wanted Avista to know what great service we have here in St. Maries. At around 3:30 a.m. this Sunday morning (Oct. 24), someone crashed into the electrical pole across the street from our home, causing a power outage. This has happened before, in and around town, and our service has always been on very quickly. But this time I was able to see why. What a well-oiled crew you have! Even during the dark, your crew assessed the problem with the help of our police dept., and secured the street for safe passage.

At first light the work crew was out here and began work. I was very impressed at the way they just got in there and began work. Definitely a crew that was very experienced and knowledgeable. Of course they are well trained, but these guys (in the pouring rain almost the entire time) never missed a beat.

I think all who work outside on a regular basis for our needs, deserve our thanks more often than they hear. It was a pleasure to watch them, and I now know what it takes to replace those huge poles and lines!

I wish my young grandchildren could have been here to see how well they all worked together in addition to the very interesting lesson of what it takes to replace an electrical pole.

I am a picture taker, and I hope you enjoy seeing your hard-working crew in action. Our power was on so fast, my husband didn't have to drag out the generator ... it was on before daylight! Thanks again for the fast service, and all the work you do."

-Linda, North Idaho
 
If you have photos or stories to tell about work Avista has done in your area, e-mail the Blog and let us know.
 
 
Published: 11/30/2010  10:10 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 17 , 2010
Potlatch video
 
Post & Video by Dan Kolbet

Yesterday I met up with several Avista electric line crews restoring power near Potlatch, Idaho. This video shows the clean up and restoration effort along Hwy 95. The audio quality is really pretty poor, sorry about that – but it shows just how windy it was out there even hours after the main storm had passed. At one point my camera even blew over – go figure.

When I left the site last night, new steel poles had been delivered and were being erected. Avista estimates that power should be restored to the majority of customers in the area by this evening, but smaller pockets of customers may remain without power. Avista crews will continue to work until all customers have been returned to service. Customers are urged to contact Avista late this evening at 1(800)227-9187 if their power has not been restored, as there may be damage to nearby power lines, which has yet to be reported.

Shelter opened in Potlatch for residents without power
The City of Potlatch, Idaho has opened a warming shelter in the city for area residents who remain without power from Monday night’s wind storm. The shelter is located at Eastern Star’s Rebekah Hall on Pine Street in Potlatch. Avista is partnering with the City of Potlatch and Latah County Disaster Services to coordinate this effort.

The shelter is heated and will offer food and beverages to those in need. The shelter opened early Wednesday morning and is tentatively scheduled to remain open until at least 8 p.m. tonight. For more information about the shelter, please contact Sandy Rollins, Latah County Disaster Services at (208)883-2265 or (509)330-0676.
Published: 11/17/2010  2:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 16 , 2010
New wind photo album
 
Post & Photos by Dan Kolbet
 
Tuesday’s early morning wind storm damaged up to 11 transmission structures on Idaho’s Hwy 95, south of Potlatch and north of Moscow. The poles were likely pulled down in a domino effect, with wires pulling down the next structure and each smashing into the highway.
 
The slideshow at the top of this post shows the transmission line damage and restoration on Hwy 95 south of Potlatch.
 
Crews from several parts of Avista’s service territory worked to safely remove the poles and wire from the roadway, frequently using chainsaws and wenches to heft the debris to the side of the road. New steel transmission structures and assorted items were delivered to the site on Tuesday afternoon. Erecting those structures will take into Wednesday at least. Just over 1,100 customers were impacted by this outage.

Across our service territory Tuesday, Avista employees worked tirelessly to restore power and keep customers up to date. At its peak roughly 45,000 customers were without power. As of 6:15 p.m. Tuesday night, just 6,600 customer remain without power. Due to the extent of the storm’s damage some customers will remain without power at least through early Wednesday morning. 
 
For the most current information on outages click here.
 
 
 
Published: 11/16/2010  6:23 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 09 , 2010
Broken power pole
This power pole was ripped from the ground during a powerful storm in the
Lewiston/Clarkston Valley in early May. One damaged area was so
remote that our crews had to build a road to access it.
View photos on Flickr of the windstorm damage as well as the crews’ efforts in restoration.
View photos on Flickr of the windstorm damage as well as the crews’ efforts
in restoration. 
Post by Sarah Hilbert

When the power goes out – we go all-out for you. In early May, a strong windstorm in the Lewiston/Clarkston area caused many outages, taking out power to 18,000 customers at its peak. Poles were snapped in half and downed power lines were strewn about in hard-to-access areas throughout the Clarkston Valley.

One concentrated outage had taken out 7,526 customers. Most of our customers were restored after we rerouted power over serviceable power lines; however, a few customers remained out for hours until the final repairs were made. This post should give you an idea of what goes on during a large power outage.

This day was challenging because it involved a large number of damaged transmission structures/lines, which serve thousands of customers, plus distribution lines – which serve neighborhoods. Many of the lines were in very remote locations, which are difficult to access quickly.

All hands on deck
We were able to restore power to most of our customers in short order thanks to an all-hands-on-deck approach. We assessed the damage quickly and assisted the local first responders, while beginning the restoration work out of our Pullman and Clarkston offices.

Initially, crews could not even reach the most damaged feeder (a large power line serving many customers) because it was so remote. But within a few hours, we worked with customers to get approvals to access their property and contractors to use equipment to build a construction road, greatly decreasing the repair time. 

In order to get the materials we needed to get the lights back on, we had to pull items from several warehouses throughout our service territory – and fast. Even gas department employees (who don’t typically work on the electric service side) got in the mix by pre-assembling steel poles and transporting materials.

Hearing from you
Our Contact Center call volume spikes when large outages occur. More than 18,400 calls came in on during this storm day. Fortunately, 62 percent of the calls were handled through our automated phone system, doing the work of 150 full-time employees. This both saved you on-hold time and money, through fewer employees. Our reps personally handled nearly 7,000 calls, well into the night.

When the lights go out, you know we’re committed to getting you back on line as quickly and safely as possible. Yet we don’t often detail what lengths our employees in the field go through to restore power. This outage wasn’t typical, given the number of damaged structures, but our response was – working as a team to provide the best service possible for our customers.

View photos of the windstorm damage as well as the crews’ efforts in restoration. 
Published: 6/9/2010  2:15 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

 Next >>