Aug 06 , 2012

811 video
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 to request a underground utility locate. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s the law.
Published: 8/6/2012  9:35 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 30 , 2012
Avista's Deer Park Settler's Days truck
Post by Dan Kolbet

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.

View more photos on the Avista Utilities Facebook page.

Learn more about the work we’ve done in Deer Park
Avista Blog Nov. 11, 2011: Deer Park VFW unveils colorful memorial
Published: 7/30/2012  3:55 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 19 , 2012

Spokane SWAT at Avista

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.

Check out more information about electric and natural gas safety.
Published: 7/19/2012  4:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 11 , 2012
Photo show of July 4 Celebrations on the Clark Fork

Original operator at Cabinet Gorge Dam, Clyde Meredith
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.
Published: 7/11/2012  10:41 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 06 , 2012
Post Falls Dam

On the Avista blog last week we announced summer work taking place at Post Falls Dam.

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.
Published: 7/6/2012  3:09 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 21 , 2012
ATV w/out HTTP
Employees spring to action, save co-worker, make stretcher with sticks and a chainsaw before a helicopter evacuation

Post by Dan Kolbet

The ATV was drained of oil and fuel prior to placement.
Matt trims the wood stretcher pole to fit in the transport vehicle.
MedStar crews and Deary EMS help the victim.
When the lights go out, you expect someone from Avista to have your back and get the lights on quick. It’s commonplace to have outages occur in heavy rain or snow and in rough country where long stretches of power lines travel. So who has the crew’s back when they’re out on the job – especially in rural areas?

That was the key question asked in late June when Avista staged a mock ATV accident in the wilderness near Bovill, Idaho. The scenario went like this – two linemen on ATVs were servicing a power line that feeds communications and other equipment on a remote butte that can’t be reached by traditional vehicles. One of the ATVs couldn’t navigate a turn and rolled down a heavily wooded embankment. One of the men was seriously hurt. He wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

What would you do?

Avista Journeyman Lineman Matt Anderson was put on the spot to rescue his fallen co-worker, Journeyman Lineman Marc Gaines. Anderson had about three minutes to prepare for the scenario.  After lifting the ATV off the victim, radioing for help and MedStar, performing CPR and getting a pulse, Anderson grabbed his chainsaw and on the fly made a stretcher out of nearby trees, his coat, sweatshirt and some straps from his own ATV.

Once additional co-workers arrived on scene they carried the victim to a Trooper/Snowcat and evacuated him to a landing zone for MedStar where he was met by the helicopter crew and Deary, Idaho EMS. An Avista employee used spray paint, normally used to mark underground lines when you call 811, to mark the landing zone. The large “X” was painted in the gravel in between the words “LAND HERE.”

“We expected the scenario to take about two and a half hours, but Matt and the crew did such an awesome job, it only took about one hour,” said Mark Magers, a Journeyman Lineman/Meterman who organized the event and coordinated with local first responders.

The Avista electric line crew that arrived on scene to help Anderson consisted of Chris Ball, Dan Flanagan, Bryant Maupin and Chad Steinbruecker.

Avista creates these mock scenarios to test our employees, emergency procedures and first responders to make sure that when an accident happens – we’re all ready for action.

This was an intricately planned mock accident and no employees, customers or first responders were in any real danger at any time. The ATV was also drained of all fuel and oil prior to placement.

I was lucky enough to video the incident and I hope you’ll watch the recap above. It was an amazing emotional scene to watch my co-workers put all their skills into play. There was no hint of “pretend” on anyone’s face. Saving a life, through any means available, was the goal and the employees’ dedication shows clearly on the video.

While the event was a mock scenario, the training of Avista’s crew was on full display. Several observers watched the incident and will present any findings or recommendations.

As one observer said when the MedStar helicopter took off and the scene was cleared, “If I ever get hurt, I sure hope an Avista guy is around to help me.”

That statement says it all. Nice work guys.
Also Read
Published: 6/21/2012  1:08 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 20 , 2012

Aerial view of Post Falls Dam Spring 2012


School’s out and the weather is finally beginning to warm, which will have many of you making summer river and lake recreation plans. Before you head out for fun on the water, we would like to provide you with information about current river flows and lake levels, as well as our plans for summer operations at Post Falls Dam.

The amount of snow in the mountains continues to be well above normal, because the cool weather has slowed the snow melt. At the beginning of June, Avista began closing spill gates at Post Falls Dam. However, above normal June rainfall has again pushed Lake Coeur d’Alene above its summer elevation. Avista has had to re-open all spill gates and current flows in the Spokane River are more than twice the volume we would normally expect this time of year.

With snowpack still over 200 percent of normal for the Spokane River basin, and a forecast of cooler and wetter than average weather, the runoff is expected to continue well into the summer.
Avista will likely be spilling excess water over the spillways at Post Fall Dam until after the Fourth of July holiday this year. Because of the open spill gates, the river upstream of Post Falls Dam will continue to be lower than normal until after the runoff season, and the City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park will not open until after July 4th. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and mid-July. The median date for closing the gates is June 22.

Avista operates our hydroelectric facilities with a focus on several different objectives:
  • Meeting customer demand with reliable energy service
  • Operating safely and efficiently
  • Complying with local, federal and state regulations and laws
  • Being good environmental stewards
  • Providing recreation opportunities

Safety on the river
As always, we ask you to exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors. The water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating on or near a lake or river at risk for hypothermia, even in warmer weather. Here is some other important safety information for your consideration:

  • Always wear a lifejacket on the water.
  • Obey all safety and warning signs.
  • Never fish, play or anchor your boat below a dam.
  • Sudden discharges can increase water flows in a hurry.
  • Don’t cross the boater safety cable above a dam. The current could pull you through a spill gate or drag you under water near a powerhouse.
  • Watch overhead clearances like cables and power lines when sailing.

The best way to get the latest information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River is to call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.

In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043.

The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.
You can also check current river and lake levels on our website. 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 changing water conditions.

For more information on lake and river levels, please call Pat Maher at (509) 495-4283.
Published: 6/20/2012  10:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 18 , 2012
He makes stretcher out of trees, coat, sweatshirt and his chainsaw
Post by Dan Kolbet

Last Thursday Avista’s safety folks surprised employee Matt Anderson with a mock ATV accident in the wilderness near Bovill, Idaho. After lifting the ATV off the victim, radioing for help and MedStar, performing CPR and getting a pulse, Anderson grabbed his chainsaw and on the fly made a stretcher out of nearby trees, his coat, sweatshirt and some straps from his own ATV.  Once co-workers arrived on scene, which was down a steep wooded embankment, they carried him to a Trooper/SnowCat and evacuated him to a landing zone for MedStar.

I'm working on a full video and of the event to show the entire scene and effort.

Avista creates these mock scenarios to test our employees, emergency procedures and first responders to make sure that when an accident happens – we’re all ready for action.

This was an intricately planned mock accident and no employees, customers or first responders were in any real danger at any time. The ATV was also drained of all fuel and oil prior to placement. The accident location was in rough country under a power line that feeds a mountaintop communications facility, which must be frequently accessed by Avista crews.

It was an amazing scene and the impromptu stretcher was genius.
Published: 6/18/2012  9:36 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 08 , 2012
Avista is powering a future workforce through construction and training at Jack Stewart Training Facility

Jack Stewart Training School Workforce
Shown above is employees at Avista
preparing for the installation of the
pad mount switchgear, which will
energize the training substation at the
Jack Stewart Training Facility.
Avista employees have been hard at work building a new training substation at Avista’s Jack Stewart Training Facility scheduled to go online in August. Just last week, they reached a major milestone in the project when they installed an on-and-off switch to energize the substation. These updates to Avista’s facilities will prepare our current and future workforce for the technology they will need to maintain and operate the smart grid of the future.

The future substation will energize Safety Town at Jack Stewart. Safety Town is a small, 10-building lot representing a typical residential neighborhood. Safety Town prepares gas and electric apprentices, journeymen and pre-line school students for real-life scenarios they would encounter while working on distribution service.
The connected facilities will create an authentic training environment that will simulate outage conditions, and test smart grid devices used to isolate different sections of the electric system – all with the goal of minimizing power outages and improving reliability.

An Interactive Curriculum
Part of the Workforce Training Project includes developing a web-based, interactive curriculum. With the help of Avista’s subject matter experts, the updated curriculum will include smart grid features and practices our industry workforce will need to learn.

About the Workforce Training Project 

Switch mechanism

Shown above is a switch
mechanism on the junction box
which will simplify some steps to
energize the training substation
being built at Jack Stewart.
The Workforce Training Project is part of the triad of smart grid projects Avista has been working on over the past few years after being awarded matching stimulus grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. The other two smart grid projects are Spokane Smart Circuits and the Smart Grid Demonstration Project in Pullman.

The Workforce Training Project was made possible thanks to a partnership between Avista, the Pacific Northwest Center of Excellence for Clean Energy Smart Grid project, along with several utilities and colleges in the region. The partnership was infused with a $5 million grant from the Department of Energy to develop the Workforce Training Project.

As our industry continues to evolve, new “smart” technologies will present challenges and opportunities for the existing and future workforce. New jobs and skill sets will emerge. Thanks to the Workforce Training Program, Avista has positioned itself to train this workforce of the future.
Learn more
For more information on this project, check out the Work Force Training Project on

You can also learn more about receiving training and education to become a qualified candidate for the ten occupations targeted through the project, visit Pacific Northwest Center of Excellence for Clean Energy for more information.

Published: 6/8/2012  4:20 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 08 , 2012
slide show
Safety is a family affair in Oregon
Post by Dan Kolbet

Avista’s commitment to safety extends beyond our workday and jobsite – all the way down to our grandkids. Last Saturday Avista’s Eddie Randles recruited his 7-year-old granddaughter Arianna to help at Safety Saturday at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford, Oregon.

Randles started the day with a Tailboard Meeting – just like employees who go out into the field to fix gas leaks or build new pipelines. (That’s her focused, arms-crossed look in the picture.) The detailed briefing taught Arianna all of the natural gas display items for the event and how they work.

“She even installed my pressure gauge build-up on the gas meter and found a leak with the Rover,” Randles said. “She was so versed in the different parts of the meter she was able to describe it to the Red Cross gentleman [see photo].”

The event was free and open to the public. Dozens of organizations provided information and exhibits, from document spreading to fire prevention to electric and gas safety.

Thanks Eddie and Arianna for going the extra mile for safety!

If you have a safety question about electric or gas, visit our website for more information. And don't forget to call 811 two days before you plan to dig.
Published: 6/8/2012  11:17 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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