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

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

Dec 19 , 2012
Palouse Wind Project
 
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.
Published: 12/19/2012  2:13 PM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

Nov 06 , 2012

Winner icon
Avista Utilities 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.”
 
Published: 11/6/2012  10:42 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 09 , 2012
I-937 requires Avista to have 3 percent eligible renewable resources, renewable energy credits (RECs) or a combination of both in 2012
 
 
Avista’s been generating renewable energy for a long time – after all we were founded on hydropower more than a century ago. But starting in 2012 renewable energy has officially become a required part of our energy portfolio.

video
In addition to meeting our customers’ energy needs, Avista has to meet renewable portfolio standards detailed in Washington’s Energy Independence Act. Washington state voters approved the act with the passage of Initiative-937 in 2006. It requires us to use eligible renewable resources, renewable energy credits (RECs) or a combination of both to meet the following annual targets: 3 percent of energy used to meet customer demand by Jan. 1, 2012, 9 percent by Jan. 1, 2016 and 15 percent by Jan. 1, 2020.

We just got our first stamp of approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for submitting our renewable portfolio standard report, which details how we will meet our 2012 targets. This was no small feat, and we’ve done it in a way that allows us to continue to meet our goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, even as we add new renewable power to our mix.

We will meet the majority of our 2012 requirements simply by doing what we had already planned to do – upgrading our hydroelectric dams, primarily those on the Clark Fork River. We upgraded the generating units at Cabinet Gorge Dam from 2001 to 2007, replacing the original turbines, which were installed in the 1950s. And at Noxon Rapids Dam, we just finished upgrading all four original generating units with new turbines. We did this work to extend the life and capacity of our dams. And with the modern turbines, we can generate more energy using the same amount of water. Better yet, since the upgrades were done after 1999, the additional energy qualified as an eligible renewable resource to meet our state mandates.
 
Palouse Wind
Looking forward
The next big deadline will be 2016, and while it’s still a few years away, we’ve been planning for it for some time. Over the past several years, we followed the market and looked for opportunities to incorporate additional cost-effective sources of renewable power. Lower costs of developing wind power facilities and ongoing tax incentives set to expire at the end of 2012 led us to a request for proposals in early 2011, and later that year we signed a power purchase agreement with the Palouse Wind Project, which has the added benefit of being located in our service territory. 

Palouse Wind has added value in the form of the renewable energy credits it provides. From time to time, we sell surplus RECs that result from the generation of power from renewable resources that exceed our need to meet state requirements.  Sales of excess credits help offset and lower power costs for customers.

A more recent accomplishment gives us even more flexibility in meeting our renewable energy mandates. As one of the first biomass plants of its kind in the country, Kettle Falls has been generating renewable, dependable energy for more than 25 years. We’ve been working since 2008 to get the energy generated at Kettle Falls recognized in Washington state as renewable, and in March of 2012, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed SB 5575 into law. The bill qualifies biomass energy projects built before 1999 as eligible renewable resources. As a result of the bill’s passage, the energy generated at Avista’s Kettle Falls biomass plant will qualify to meet our renewable requirements beginning in 2016. This will save our customers millions of dollars that we might otherwise have to spend to acquire or build more renewable energy to meet our state mandates.  
Published: 10/9/2012  4:32 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 17 , 2012
Blades going up.
 
Photos by Sarah Richards

Yesterday several massive blades were installed on turbines at the Palouse Wind farm on Washington State Route 195 near Oakesdale, Wash. Get more details and photos of the project. 
 
 
Published: 8/17/2012  11:16 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 03 , 2012
KXLY wind
 
Rosalia, Whitman County already benefiting economically
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
KXLY did a pretty cool story last night on the economic impacts of the Palouse Wind project going up south of Rosalia. First Wind is building the project, but Avista has a 30-year power purchase agreement on the electrical output.

Watch the story above by reporter and weekend anchor Colleen O'Brien. Read the whole story on KXLY’s website here.  There's a short (15-second) commercial before the story starts, but hey, this is about economic impact, right? So its OK.
 
Wind construction
A crane lifting a roughly 250,000-pound nacelle and
hub unit to be placed on top of the tower.
My co-workers Sarah Richards and Anna Scarlett visited the wind farm site last week and took some awesome photos of the construction site. Check out those photos here.
 
“We were very fortunate to capture this renewable energy project in Whitman County, along with the increasing level of economic activity it brings,” said Dick Watters, Whitman County director for the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association (SEWEDA). “It was always our first priority. We worked very close with Palouse Wind to ensure our region’s workforce, goods and service providers, and contractors had opportunities to participate along the way.”

According to First Wind, more than 150 jobs are being created during construction, which they anticipate will result in millions of dollars invested in the Inland Northwest.

First Wind estimates that over the life of the project, $700,000 will be generated in tax revenues per year. Additionally, sales tax collected on all goods and services purchased within Whitman County related to the project will contribute to the county general fund.

At Avista, renewable energy has been at the heart of our business since 1889. With the ever-increasing demand for energy, Avista’s purchase agreement with Palouse Wind will help us serve our customers with the renewable energy you expect and depend on.
 
Published: 8/3/2012  9:36 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 01 , 2012
slideshow
 

Inside a wind turbine
A rare look inside a wind turbine.
If you’ve had the opportunity to drive on State Route 195 near Oakesdale, Wash., within the past few weeks, you may have noticed large white towers popping up like daisies.

A little unfamiliar looking without their blades, the 250-foot structures are just the first of 58 Vestas V100-1.8 megawatt (MW) wind turbines, which will dot the Naff Ridge at First Wind’s Palouse Wind project.

Last year, Avista signed an agreement to purchase the renewable wind power generated by the proposed Palouse Wind project in Whitman County, Wash., once it comes online. In early May of this year, First Wind broke ground on Palouse Wind. First Wind expects the project to be complete and generating power by the end of the year. Parts of the wind turbines have arrived and are being assembled and erected now.

Don’t let your view from the road deceive you, the sheer size and weight of the various wind turbine parts dictate a carefully planned delivery system of barge, rail and night-time truck hauls to avoid any traffic concerns. For example, the nacelle, which is the part that sits on top of the tower and houses all of the generating components of a wind turbine, weighs 97.5 tons. The blades, more than 160 feet in length, are scheduled to start arriving on site this month.

Tilling the ground for renewable energy and economic development
Avista is rooted in renewable energy. According to the latest report of the National Resources Defense Council, "Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States," Avista is the 11th lowest emitter of CO2 in pounds per megawatt-hour of major electric generators in the United States and the third lowest among investor-owned utilities. With 50 percent of our net generation capability from hydroelectric and a majority of our thermal generation fueled with natural gas, plus a commitment to energy efficiency, we are one of the greenest utilities in the nation. As the demands for energy increase, it’s important to look for sustainable ways to meet those demands.

“We’ve been looking at wind power for a long time at Avista,” said Bob Lafferty, Avista’s director of power supply. “The renewable energy from Palouse Wind will be an important piece of our diverse portfolio that can help us meet our customers’ energy needs and renewable portfolio standards in Washington.”

Palouse Wind will be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with the capacity to generate 105 MW of energy – enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of our customers’ homes.

In addition to meeting an energy need, the location of the Palouse Wind project brings economic growth to the region as well.

“We were very fortunate to capture this renewable energy project in Whitman County, along with the increasing level of economic activity it brings,” said Dick Watters, Whitman County director for the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association (SEWEDA). “It was always our first priority. We worked very close with Palouse Wind to ensure our region’s workforce, goods and service providers, and contractors had opportunities to participate along the way.”

According to First Wind, more than 150 jobs are being created during construction, which they anticipate will result in millions of dollars invested in the Inland Northwest.

First Wind estimates that over the life of the project, $700,000 will be generated in tax revenues per year. Additionally, sales tax collected on all goods and services purchased within Whitman County related to the project will contribute to the county general fund.

“Economic development is the process of building strong, adaptive and diverse economies,” Avista’s Regional Business Manager Paul Kimmell added. “Local assets and realities, a diverse industry base, and a commitment to equality of opportunity and sustainable practices must drive these strategies. This project has emerged as one that will ensure a strong foundation for long-term stability and economic growth for Whitman County.”

At Avista, renewable energy has been at the heart of our business since 1889. With the ever-increasing demand for energy, Avista’s purchase agreement with Palouse Wind will help us serve our customers with the renewable energy you expect and depend on.
Published: 8/1/2012  10:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 06 , 2012
video
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

In early May, First Wind officially broke ground on Palouse Wind, a wind farm near the town of Oakesdale, Wash., off of State Route 195. First Wind created above video at the event, which captures the sights and sounds of the event, while setting the stage for the project.

The first of 58 towers is expected to be erected very soon. When we get more information, we’ll update the blog.

Last year Avista signed a 30-year power purchase agreement for the renewable wind power that will be generated at the site once it’s completed later this year.

The wind farm is expected be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with 58 turbines and the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes.

The power we get from Palouse Wind will be part of a diverse, responsible energy portfolio that includes renewable resources generated right here in eastern Washington. In addition, the project is helping Avista invest in our infrastructure through the transmission upgrades we’re making so we can connect the power to our system. Palouse Wind will help Avista meet its goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, while meeting renewable portfolio standards in Washington.

The groundbreaking ceremony included speakers from Avista, First Wind, Vestas, as well as several elected officials from Whitman County and the surrounding area who discussed the benefits of the project to the area’s economy, the surrounding communities and Avista’s customers.

Check back with us for more updates.
Published: 7/6/2012  9:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 08 , 2012

Rainbow near Upper Falls powerhouse

Post by Dan Kolbet

The gray skies and damp days have certainly been a bummer over the last few weeks. Isn’t summer supposed to happen around June? But, as a signal to some light at the end of the tunnel, a huge rainbow spread across the Northwest yesterday. Avista’s Michael Williams happened to be at Riverfront Park last evening and snapped the image above.

The rainbow looks to be sticking out of our Upper Falls power house, which generates hydroelectricity for downtown Spokane. Clean, renewable and cheap hydropower is certainly a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for our region.

Thanks to Michael for sending us the photo. If you snap a great picture that includes an Avista building, crew or just something about energy, send it to us to share on our blog, Facebook page or Twitter – email conversation@avistautilities.com
 
Published: 6/8/2012  10:22 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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