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

May 30 , 2012
Cover of Shared Value Report
 
 
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers and employees that they want more information on how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community impact. We’re glad you asked!

That information and more is available in our fourth annual report on our performance, “Together We Will Build Shared Value,” now online at avistautilities.com.
 
Our primary mission is to provide the energy you need for your life. The back story is all about 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. For example, in the Utility Operations section we talk about how Avista must meet state-mandated energy savings targets. As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published online only. 
 
We’ve made PDF files available of the entire report and four of its sections for your convenience in sharing the report 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. We want to hear from you about how – together – we can continue to build shared value.

 
Published: 5/30/2012  8:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 23 , 2012
photos
 
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.
 
Related posts:
 

 

Published: 5/23/2012  8:06 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 17 , 2012
Bucket trucks - 25 years apart
The photo on the left was taken last week at our Mission Campus, while the photo on the right was taken 25
years ago on Spokane's South Hill. A retiree saw the photo on the left on Avista's Facebook page and dug
into his photo archives for the image on the right he took 25 years ago. Cool connection.

Post by Dan Kolbet

Earlier this week Avista employee Scott Steele snapped the photo on the left of a bucket truck at the Mission Campus testing its boom. Our electric crews do this test each morning before heading out to a job site for safety. We posted the picture on the Avista Utilities Facebook page that same day and received more than a dozen likes (thumbs up) on the picture in just a few hours.

The picture reminded Washington Water Power/Avista retiree Dick Waitt, a frequent Avista Facebook contributor, of a photograph he took about 25 years ago. That photo is on the right. Waitt took the picture as a WWP crew was making final adjustments to one of the line switches in the tap to the Glenrose Substation on Spokane's South Hill.

Pictures of bucket trucks (even these nice ones) are pretty common, but the story of sharing them through a social network is pretty new and, you have to admit, pretty cool too.

These sort of photographs tell a story that we just can’t say in words. It’s our employees working to serve you now and for more than 120 years.

Take snappy pictures related to energy in the Northwest?
We’d love to see them. Conversation@avistautilities.com
Published: 5/17/2012  10:14 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 15 , 2012
See the bike at the Spokane Shock game, Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade and Cruzin’ the Falls Car Show

Post by Dan Kolbet

811 bike
Avista and the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council (IEUCC) have teamed up to bring the 811 Damage Prevention Bike to Spokane at no cost to promote the message of damage prevention and the importance of calling 811 for underground utility locates before starting any project that involves digging. 

Your first chance to see the bike in person will be on the concourse at the Spokane Shock game Friday. The game against the Philadelphia Soul begins at 8 p.m. The bike will also be at the Cruzin the Falls Car Show and in the Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade Saturday.

Created by Paul Jr. Designs for One Call Concepts, the construction of the 811 bike was featured on the popular “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior” reality television show on the Discovery Channel. 

Bringing the 811 Damage Prevention Bike to Spokane for high-profile community events is one way that Avista can share the importance of calling 811 for underground utility locates two days before starting any project that involves digging. Decreasing dig-ins on Avista’s natural gas system by 10 percent to increase public safety and reduce company costs is a company goal for 2012.  In 2011, there were 7.9 dig-ins for every 1,000 locates, compared to the national average of 3.7.

Last weekend the bike was at a Seattle Sounders MLS match. See more pictures of the bike on the 811 at http://www.facebook.com/811Bike

Helmet contest on Avista’s Facebook page
Avista is offering a chance for one lucky person, biker or not, to win and design his or her own custom painted motorcycle helmet with the help of Spokane artist George Roybal. To enter the contest go to www.facebook.com/avistautilties “Like” our page and fill out the entry form before May 31.
Published: 5/15/2012  9:33 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 27 , 2012
slideshow

 
Arbor Day celebrated with award and tree planting

The vocabulary word for today is arboriculture - that’s the planting and care of woody plants, especially trees.

Arboriculture is something that Avista is actively engaged in through our vegetation management program which works to keep trees clear of power lines, helping to ensure reliable service to customers. We’re also engaged in customer and community outreach programs that contribute to a healthy urban tree canopy through tree plantings and that educate customers on the importance of planting the right tree in the right place especially around power lines.

That on-going commitment has earned Avista its first Tree Line USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. The national program promotes the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees across utility service areas. Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, presented Avista with the award today at the Spokane Conservation District in Spokane Valley.

After the presentation the district planted a memorial cockspur hawthorn, the Avista 2012 Utility Smart Tree of the Year. See photos above.

Some of Avista’s programs which contributed to the company receiving the award are:
• The street tree replacement collaboration with Spokane Conservation District and the City of Spokane which removes tall growing trees located beneath power lines and replaces them with low-growing species that are compatible with overhead lines.
• The energy saving shade tree program which is a partnership with the Spokane Conservation District to help residential customers in Spokane County strategically plant shade trees to help reduce their energy costs.
• The announcement of the utility compatible tree of the year and planting of the tree in a ceremony held in Spokane
• Annual Arbor Day celebrations

Also contributing to Avista receiving the Tree Line USA Award is its commitment to quality tree care by adhering to industry standards and ensuring that employees and contract workers are trained in best practices.
 
More information
What kinds of trees can be planted near power lines?
• Only plant tree species that mature at 20’ or less near power lines.
• If you would like a list of power line compatible trees please call 1-800-727-9170, Extension 8514.
• For more species selection good sources of information are the County Extension Offices, City Parks Department, certified arborists, and reputable plant nurseries.
• If planting in city strips there may be ordinances over species selection.
Published: 4/27/2012  11:20 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 23 , 2012
Ashland customer praises employees for going the extra mile

Guest Blog Post by Brian Taylor
Medford, Oregon Gas Operations Manager

Antique range
Antique range
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.
Published: 4/23/2012  4:31 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 20 , 2012
mini excavator
 
By knowing what’s below, contractors and homeowners are making wise decisions

Tim Sweet, co-owner of Clearwater Summit Group
Tim Sweet,
co-owner
of Clearwater
Summit Group, Inc.
Guest Blog Post by: Tim Sweet, co-owner of Clearwater 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.
 
Color codes for locates
utility locates marked on ground
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.
 
Published: 4/20/2012  2:05 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 18 , 2012
Local Spokane Artist,  George Roybal
 
Enter for a chance to win a custom designed and pained helmet by local artist, George Roybal

Post by Brandi Smith

April is National Call Before you Dig Month, and at Avista we are doing our best to get the word out about how important it is to use the free utility locate system before digging into the unknown territory below.

In honor of the occasion, we have partnered with the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council (IEUCC) to bring a custom made chopper designed by Paul Jr. Designs to Spokane at no cost. You may have seen him on the popular reality show, “American Chopper:  Senior vs. Junior” where the design and construction of the 811 Damage Prevention bike was featured.

Contest Entry tab on Facebook
To enter the contest go to
 “Like” our page and fill out the entry form.
It’s that easy.
 
Don’t delay however,
the contest ends on May 31.
But wait, there’s more. Avista is offering a chance for one lucky person, biker or not, to win and design his or her own custom painted motorcycle helmet with the help of Spokane artist George Roybal.

Meet the artist
Known as the "Purveyor of Potent Paint", George Roybal owns and operates Illustrated Air, a custom airbrush, pinstripe, and paint studio located in Spokane Valley, Wash. For over 16 years, George has transformed custom paint in the Inland Northwest. Renowned for his photo realistic airbrush work, he has garnered numerous "Best Paint" awards for his customers including The House Of Kolor "Prestigious Painter" award in 2002 on a 1995 Hummer painted with a cutting edge tribal graphic done entirely freehand.

What we are trying to say is that his work is awesome and you wouldn’t want to miss out on this golden opportunity to win something cool. Entering the contest is as easy as calling in a utility locate. All you have to do is be at least 18, “like” us on Facebook and fill out the entry form.

Why 811 is so important
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.

The new 811 Damage Prevention Bike created for One Call Concepts, Inc. will be at the May 18 Spokane Shock game and will be in the Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade and car show on May 19. Bringing the 811 Prevention Bike to Spokane for high-profile community events is one way that we can share with customers and the public about the importance of calling before beginning any project that involves digging.
 
If you have a project that needs a utility locate, call 811 or visit, www.call811.com to submit a request online. Simply click on the "local information" tab to get information on your state's utility locate service.

Published: 4/18/2012  10:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 13 , 2012

Spokane River

The spring runoff season is just beginning, and can create dangerous river flows and lake levels. Stay safe by staying out of the water during high flows.

Post by Anna Scarlett

The high river flows and lake levels we saw in the first week of April brought breathtaking views at our area dams along with water over some parts of our roads and trails. This may have you thinking we’re well into the spring runoff season. But the fact is what we saw earlier this month was just a preview of what’s to come.

An abundance of early spring rain rapidly increased the flow of water into Coeur d’Alene Lake, and from there, into the Spokane River in the last days of March and early part of April. The Spokane River peaked on April 3 with nearly 28,000 cubic feet per second flowing through downtown Spokane, while Coeur d’Alene Lake peaked at just over 2,131 feet above sea level, or about 3 feet above its normal summer level. Since then, river and lake levels have gradually fallen, remaining fairly steady for the last few days.

Today (April 13), they’re starting to rise slightly again – and we’re likely in for a couple  more months of high waters. Due to higher than normal seasonal snowpack (as of Friday April 13, it’s still at 108 percent of normal), and warmer expected temperatures in addition to the heavy rainfall we’ve already received, the National Weather Service is predicting above average river flows in the area in the coming months.

Safety is a top priority at Avista. So as warmer, sunny days draw you to the water, we want to remind you that Coeur d’Alene Lake and the downstream river and reservoir levels can change rapidly at any time, due to weather and other factors. Please use caution on the water and comply with all posted notices and closures, especially near the vicinity of hydroelectric facilities, and always wear your life jacket when on the water.

Property owners and lake users – remember to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate changing water conditions.

When recreating on or along a river or reservoir, always follow these important safety tips:

• Always be alert for debris, obstructions, and partially submerged objects.
• Always obey warning signs near dams.
• Never cross boater restraining cables or buoy lines that designate areas where boats should not operate.
• Never fish, swim or boat above or below a dam - water levels can change rapidly with little warning due to operation of spill gates and turbines.
• If in a sailboat or catamaran, always look for overhead cables and power lines.
• Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), even if you are an adult.
• Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• When on the water, obey all warning signs and follow all rules and regulations.

Remember rivers and streams are at their peak flows during spring and early summer. For more safety information, visit http://www.avistautilities.com/safety/dams.

Access water level information 24 hours a day
Avista 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 line advises 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 at http://www.avistautilities.com, keyword search “weather and water.”
 
LEARN MORE:
 
Published: 4/13/2012  4:19 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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