May 09 , 2013
If this spring’s unseasonably warm weather is drawing you to the lake or river this weekend, Avista reminds you to exercise caution as snowmelt is causing high, swift and cold river flows.
While the water may look calm on top, the current is usually very strong. Combined with cold water temperatures, swimmers can find themselves in a dangerous situation quickly. As a public service, Avista reports on area lake and river levels and makes the reports available to the community by calling (509) 495-8043 or (208) 769-1357.
To protect yourself and your companions when recreating on or along a river or lake, always follow these important safety tips:
- Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), even if you are an adult. It’s always a good idea to attach an emergency alert whistle to your PFD.
- Remember that water is extremely cold in spring. Know the symptoms of hypothermia.
- Keep your head above water. Muscles in your limbs can stop working after only 10 minutes. Hypothermia can begin in one hour or less depending on the water temperatures.
- Be alert to strong currents and undertows.
- Always be alert for debris, obstructions and partially submerged objects that may be a result of spring run-off and high water conditions.
- Always obey warning signs near dams.
- Never cross boater restraint cables or buoy lines that designate areas where boats should not operate. The closer a boat or individual gets to a dam or powerhouse, the more hazardous the situation becomes.
- Never fish, swim or boat above or below a dam – water levels can change rapidly with the operation of spillgates and turbines.
- If in a sailboat or catamaran, always look for overhead cables and power lines.
- Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Never anchor your boat below a dam
- Make a voyage plan including the area you will be recreating, who is in your party and return time. Share the plan with someone who will not be in your party.
When on the water, obey all warning signs, follow all rules and regulations, and use common sense. Remember rivers and streams are at their peak flows during spring and early summer. Here are more safety tips
Feb 05 , 2013
Scams - it seems like hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear or read about one somewhere.
Unfortunately, scams involving utilities are not new. To help make sure you don’t fall victim to someone representing themselves as Avista, we want you to know about our standard business practices.
• Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Ask to see it if you are in doubt. If they don’t have identification, you can ask them to leave.
• Some of our field employees wear a lime-green safety reflective vest with an Avista logo while others often wear a sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt or other similar clothing with an Avista logo.
• Authorized Avista contractors have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista Utilities.
• Field employees and authorized contractors typically do not need access to the inside of your home unless you have contacted Avista directly about a specific problem.
• As a customer, you should not receive a phone call or email from us asking for your confidential information, such as security number, credit card number or banking information or demanding immediate payment over the phone. Instead a customer with a past due amount would be notified by letter of the outstanding balance and possible disconnection of service.
• If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an Avista representative asking for your confidential information, end the call and phone us at (800) 227-9187. That’s our customer service number which is also located on your Avista bill. You can also call us any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone.
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.
Nov 15 , 2012
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.
for a printable list to store in a handy location at your home or on your mobile device.
Sep 12 , 2012
Visitors to the area near Monroe Street Dam will see a crane relocating rock, gravel and sediment that
has accumulated at Monroe Street Dam in downtown Spokane.
Periodic maintenance of the dam helps ensure safe and efficient hydropower
This week, Avista has begun removing and relocating rock, gravel and sediment that has accumulated at Monroe Street Dam in downtown Spokane, in accordance with state permits.
After a crane operator dredges the Monroe Street
Dam forebay, we contract with a professional diver
to go down to the base of the dam to remove
accumulated material that the crane can’t get.
Click on the video above to see underwater
footage of an Associated Underwater Services
(AUS) diver removing material from the intake
gate. The footage is courtesy of AUS.
High and extended river flows earlier this spring caused large amounts of rocks, gravel and other materials to accumulate at the dam. When rocks and other materials pile up in front of the dam, they block the intake structure, which lowers our generating capacity. This periodic maintenance of the dam prevents damage to the intake structure and allows us to maintain power production.
Over the next two to three weeks, a crane located near the southern part of the dam will collect the accumulated materials from the forebay, the area immediately upstream of the dam, and then place them back into the river below the dam.
“Public safety and protecting the surrounding environment are Avista’s top priorities as we do this work,” said Speed Fitzhugh, Spokane River license manager for Avista. “Redistributing the materials back into the river will allow them to continue to serve as a potential gravel source for spawning habitat in the lower Spokane River.”
Visitors should keep clear of the crane, which will be fenced in for safety reasons. For your safety, please stay out of the river in this area and keep clear of designated work areas.
About Monroe Street Dam
Avista's first hydroelectric development, Monroe Street Dam has been producing power since 1890 – longer than any other hydroelectric development currently in operation in the state of Washington.
Avista, then Washington Water Power, constructed the dam at a natural waterfall at Spokane's Lower Falls. The dam was rebuilt in 1974, and a new underground powerhouse was built in 1992. Since Monroe Street Dam is a low head concrete gravity dam designed and built to provide aesthetically pleasing flows, it doesn’t have spill gates that allow for rocks and other natural materials to pass through. Since the reconstruction in the 1970s, Avista has periodically removed and relocated natural materials about every two years to ensure the plant is generating power safely and efficiently.
After a crane operator dredges the Monroe Street Dam forebay, we contract with a professional diver to go down to the base of the dam to remove accumulated material that the crane can’t get.
Click on the video above to see underwater footage of an Associated Underwater Services (AUS) diver removing material from the intake gate. The footage is courtesy of AUS.
Aug 06 , 2012
There’s not much better than a summer evening at a baseball game. If catching the Spokane Indians game on Saturday, Aug. 11, is in your plans, make sure to stop by the Avista booth to pick up information and reminders on the importance of requesting a free underground utility locate two days before starting any project – large or small - that involves digging. Call 811.
Providing information at the baseball game is one way Avista is joining with utilities across the country in promoting 811 awareness on Aug. 11, National 811 Day. Whether you’re a contractor or a do-it-yourself homeowner, knowing where underground utility lines are buried before you dig will help protect you from injury, prevent damages to utilities and service disruptions, and avoid potential fines and repair costs.
But, if you’re looking for cool indoor space, check out the 811 Call before You Dig information ad that is running before the latest blockbuster starts at Regal Cinemas and Village Center Theaters in our Washington and Idaho service area and at Tinseltown Cinemark in Medford, Oregon. The information ad is also part of our ongoing commitment to remind customers and contractors to stay safe and call 811 two days before installing a mailbox, planting a tree, building a deck or any other project that requires digging.
So before stepping on the shovel in your yard or starting up the backhoe, make sure to call 811 or go online at www.call811.com
to request a underground utility locate. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the law.
Jul 30 , 2012
For this year’s Settler’s Days Parade in Deer Park, Wash., Avista dressed up one of our electric line trucks with a patriotic theme to cruise the route. Our employees volunteer their time to participate in community events like this to share information about energy efficiency and safety. We love the communities we serve. Thanks for having us, Deer Park!
In the picture above you can see Deer Park Operations Manager Frank Binder; Journeyman Lineman Pat St. Amand, his wife Coleen and their two daughters Bridget and Margaret; Community Investment and Foundation Manager Kristi Meyer; and of course, Edison and our Energy Watchdog, Wattson.
Jul 19 , 2012
Avista equips first responders with electric and natural gas safety training
To ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the public, Avista works closely with local firefighters, police and other first responders so we are all prepared to take action when called upon.
This work includes coordinating with other first responders in emergencies, mock accident training and basic electric and natural gas training.
Last month, the City of Spokane SWAT Team came to Avista to learn a little electric and natural gas 101, as well as how to disconnect electric and gas meters in an emergency situation.
The Spokane SWAT Team supports the Spokane Police Department with tactical response to critical incidents, such as hostage, barricade, or sniper situations. One of their objectives during an incident is to make the area safe. This includes eliminating the perpetrator’s ability to misuse electricity or natural gas to harm or threaten the safety of others.
“If there are potential electric or natural gas hazards, we always encourage first responders to contact us first,” said Bill Baker, Avista gas training and codes coordinator. “If they have to act at that moment, we’ve ensured they have the proper training to defuse a potentially volatile situation with electricity or natural gas.”
Baker, along with Natural Gas Foreman Dan Gigler taught the class of 30 SWAT team members how to pull an electric meter, how to turn off the gas meter and the importance of wearing safety equipment in the process.
First responders often put their lives on the line to ensure the public’s safety. Avista’s gas and electric servicemen and women, also first responders, ensure the public’s safety by making a situation safe from any potential electric or natural gas dangers.
Safety for everyone is always top of mind every day that we work to deliver energy to your homes and businesses. The training and partnership with other first responders is just one of the many examples of our commitment to your safety.
Jul 11 , 2012
One of the original operators of Cabinet
Gorge Dam, 90-year old Clyde Meredith,
who retired in 1984, rode alongside
Cabinet's current Chief Operator.
Avista employees and the community of Clark Fork celebrated our Independence Day and commemorated Cabinet Gorge 60th anniversary at the annual Clark Fork, Idaho - Fourth of July celebration last week.
Several of Avista’s hydro operations and environmental resources employees and their families, a line truck, electric safety demonstration trailer and Bull Trout education trailer took part in the community’s annual Fourth of July parade.
One of the original operators of Cabinet Gorge, 90-year old Clyde Meredith, who retired in 1984, was also in the parade. He rode alongside Cabinet Gorge’s current Chief Operator, Don Wells in Clark Fork License Manager Tim Swant’s 1965 Pontiac LeMans.
Avista helped support the community celebrations and fireworks, and donated a trailer-mounted BBQ to the Clark Fork Booster Club so they have a means of fundraising for many years to come.
We’re proud to be a part of the community of Clark Fork for the past 60 years. Happy Birthday to America, and to Cabinet Gorge.
Jul 06 , 2012
We’re replacing the lifting hoists and old timber intake gates with modern lifting hoists and new steel gates. 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. We were also planning to refurbish the spill gates in the south channel of the river, but that project has been postponed until 2013.
The intake gate replacement project is scheduled for July-November 2012 while river flows are at summer levels. During the project, we’ll do our best to minimize the disruption to recreation and power generation as much as possible, but the work is important so we can continue to safely generate clean, reliable hydropower. The project will affect park users, boaters and dam operations.
Q’emiln Park Boat Launch: During the work, at least two generator units must be taken out of service, which reduces the amount of water that can pass through the powerhouse at any one time. This means the total river flow will need to be lower than normal before the spill gates can be closed and the Q’emiln Park boat launch can be opened. Depending on weather, this will likely take place sometime in mid-July.
Falls Park: Falls Park visitors will see equipment and temporary work structures in and around the river, including cranes, barges, trucks and contractors throughout the project duration. Some areas of the park may be temporarily fenced off, and detours or alternate viewpoints may be designated for park visitors. For your safety, please obey posted signs, stay out of the area of the river below the dam and keep clear of designated work areas.
Post Falls Dam Informational Meeting July 10
Avista will host an informational meeting to discuss the project and answer questions on July 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Post Falls Police Department in Post Falls at 1717 E. Polston Ave. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, please call Mac Mikkelson at 509-495-8759. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the project reaches completion.