Mar 20 , 2012
Today is the first day of Spring and right about the time most people start thinking about projects in the yard. (Disregard these crazy "yard work thoughts" if you saw snow in your yard today).
Before you start any project that requires digging, be sure to call 811 two days before you dig to locate underground utility lines. In 2011, there were 7.9 dig-ins on Avista’s natural gas system for every 1,000 locates, as compared to the national average of 3.7. Avista’s goal for 2012 is to reduce the number of dig-ins by 10 percent to increase public safety and reduce company costs.
It’s only three numbers; you can handle it – just call 811.
Mar 05 , 2012
A first-hand account of my experience with Avista's home energy audit program
The blower door test detects excess air escaping and entering
For about the same price as you’d pay for a nice dinner out or a ski lift ticket on Mount Spokane, you can purchase an in-home energy audit if you live within Spokane County. Sure, dinner or skiing sounds like much more fun, but a home energy audit provides a lot of advantages, some obvious and some not so obvious. Here are five reasons why you should consider signing up for an audit with Avista Utilities. I just had my audit done last weekend, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
1. A home energy audit can save your life. If your home uses natural gas or propane, the certified home energy contractor may find safety hazards, such as an appliance or furnace that produces unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. Peace of mind is priceless and it’s always nice to know if your home passes the test or not.
2. For as low as $49, you get a tremendous amount of value
out of a home energy audit. Not only does a professional certified contractor inspect your home, but after the audit you get a box full of energy efficiency goodies from Avista. (see photo) Our home energy auditors were BPI Certified,
which is the standard for all Avista in-home energy audit contractors.
3. What you find out may surprise you. Home energy pros can find problems and opportunities that you might miss – even if you are a devoted energy saver, the pros have equipment that finds problems that might otherwise have gone unnoticed such as pesky leaks in your home’s ductwork.
4. The blower door test is as cool as it sounds. Oh my goodness, you will be shocked by how many air leaks this technology detects in your home. The blower door is a tool that depressurizes your home and stimulates a 20 mph wind blowing on all surfaces of your home simultaneously. This causes outside air to rush through holes in your home’s exterior envelope. The largest air leak in my home was coming from the flue vent in our unfinished basement. We can easily remedy that by capping the vent. Something we never would have thought of before this audit. Outlets and light switches are also a common culprit. Avista provides outlet and light switch insulators in the goody box provided to you at the end of your audit.
With every home energy audit, you get a
box full of items that will help you
improve your homes energy efficiency.
5. Knowledge is the key to savings.
Ever wonder how your energy use compares to others? After your in-home audit, you get a detailed report in the mail about your homes energy use as well as helpful recommendations on what you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home. In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable pieces of information a homeowner can have. The recommendations will help me prioritize my home improvement projects for years to come.
Are you ready to maximize your energy efficiency? Good! Find out if your home qualifies for the in-home energy audit here.
You can also find more information about Avista’s energy efficiency programs at everylittlebit.com.
Once you have registered for the In-Home Energy Audit, completed the Online Home Energy Analyzer, and your payment has been received by Avista, a representative from one of Avista’s certified home energy auditing contractors will call you within 10 business days of the receipt of your payment to schedule your in-home energy audit.
The popular program is ending in September so make sure to sign up for an audit by August 15.
Feb 24 , 2012
If you’re a fan of the Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper
; Senior vs. Junior” or you just like to ride, mark your calendar for May 18 and 19 when the 811 Prevention Bike will be in Spokane thanks to a partnership between Avista and the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council (IEUCC).
The 811 bike was created by Paul Jr. Designs for One Call Concepts, Inc. as a unique way to promote the message of damage prevention and call before you dig. The construction of the bike will be featured on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 episodes of the popular “American Chopper” reality television show. Air times are 6 p.m. with a repeat at 8 p.m.
Avista been working with the 811 bike owners to bring it to Spokane at no cost. This will be one of the first national public appearances of the bike since it was unveiled last fall at a damage prevention training conference in Maryland.
Plans are for the 811 bike to be on display at the May 18 Spokane Shock game, followed by the Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade and car show on May 19. In addition to being on hand at all events with the bike with 811 Call Before You Dig information, Avista employees will also be transporting the bike in the Lilac Parade on a company vehicle.
In 2011, there were 7.9 dig-ins on Avista’s natural gas system for every 1,000 locates, as compared to the national average of 3.7. Avista’s goal for 2012 is to reduce the number of dig-ins by 10 percent to increase public safety and reduce company costs. Bringing the 811 Prevention Bike to Spokane for high-profile community events is one way that we can share the importance of calling before beginning any project that involves digging.
We’ll keep you posted as more plans for the 811 bike are firmed up.
Watch the Feb. 27 episode of "American Chopper" featuring the 811 call before you dig bike at 6 p.m. on the Discovery Channel with a repeat at 8 p.m.
Feb 06 , 2012
By Brandi Smith
Avista recently sent out the latest issue of the Spokane River Newsletter, a quarterly publication that keeps subscribers informed about our activities in and around the Spokane River. Below is an article from the newsletter that describes how we operate the Post Falls Dam during the winter season. Check out the latest issue
and learn more about what Avista has been up to.
Winter river flows and Coeur d’Alene Lake levels
People commonly think floods occur in the spring. But did you know many of the highest levels recorded for Coeur d’Alene Lake have occurred in the winter? For example, on Christmas day in 1933 the lake reached an all-time peak of roughly eleven feet over its summer level.
Coeur d’Alene Lake is a natural lake with an outlet that naturally restricts its outflow. The primary sources of water into the lake are the St. Joe, St. Maries and Coeur d’Alene rivers. The water then flows through the outlet to create the Spokane River. Avista’s Post Falls Hydroelectric Dam is on the Spokane River, nine miles downstream of the lake’s outlet. The dam affects Coeur d’Alene Lake elevation for about half of the year. During winter and spring, lake levels are controlled entirely by the natural outlet restriction and inflows.
The winter months are generally the wet season in our region. Fluctuating temperatures, rain that occurs on top of snow, or extended heavy rain can increase flows rapidly, which in turn can result in quickly-rising river and lake elevations.
Avista’s goal each year is to draw Coeur d’Alene Lake down six to seven feet below the summer level by early January. This allows Post Falls Dam to generate electricity while providing capacity in the lake for later precipitation and runoff. Natural inflows usually exceed our turbine capacity early in the year, letting Coeur d’Alene Lake and the Spokane River find their naturally occurring levels with no influence by the dam. This free flow condition typically continues through spring run-off until late May, June or early July.
River and lake levels can change quickly. We want you to stay safe, so always use caution on the water and comply with all posted notices and closures, especially in the vicinity.
Avista has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River.
In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357, in Washington call (509) 495-8043
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Jan 19 , 2012
We just released six contractor (Asplundh) tree-trimming crews to help Puget Sound Energy clean up after their major winter storm issues on the West side of Washington.
It's a mutal aid agreement. If/when Avista needs assistance, PSE would send help our way too. Stay safe and best of luck to all the crews working in these terrible weather conditions.
The image to the right shows an electric line crew at work yesterday, not a tree-trimming crew.
UPDATE at 3:45: We just released another six electric line crews (International Line Builders) to help in the Olympia area. The previous crews we sent West were tree-trimming crews, but these are full line crews that can do repairs. Best of luck to them.
Jan 18 , 2012
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.
Jan 06 , 2012
Crews brave the cold to bring reliable service to you in $1.4 million project
If you’ve traveled along Highway 95 in North Idaho by Silverwood recently, you may have seen Avista natural gas crews working alongside the busy highway. We wanted to let you know what they are up to. Our crews are relocating and increasing capacity for six miles of natural gas pipeline to accommodate a newly constructed highway.
The Idaho Department of Transportation is reconstructing a portion of Highway 95 from approximately Chilco to Athol. The highway will expand from two to four lanes, which is great for safety and traffic, but means Avista’s existing 3-inch natural gas pipeline needs to move to a new right-of-way on the east side of the road.
Avista is expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 3 to 6 inches too. Expanded capacity helps serve existing customer needs and helps prepare our infrastructure for the future. The estimated cost for this project is around $1.4 million. Part of our requests for customer rate adjustments typically includes infrastructure work like this project.
You can see from the slideshow of pictures that the crews are clearing a pathway, laying down 40-foot lengths of yellow plastic pipe, fusing them together and then burying the pipeline with sandy soil. The sandy soil protects the pipeline from being touched rocks or hard objects that could put pressure on the new pipeline. After the line is in place it will be pressure tested before being brought into service.
The project started in mid-December and should be completed by mid-March. One of the biggest hurdles the crews had to overcome recently was frost. At times crews had to dig through 12 to 24 inches of frozen ground to make a trench that goes much deeper. Typically large projects like this aren’t completed during winter months, but Avista and other utilities agreed to do the work now to accommodate the Idaho Department of Transportation’s aggressive schedule. Luckily snow hasn’t been an issue yet, but if it does, our crews will work through that too.
Dec 12 , 2011
Avista linemen show what can happen when something, like a
kite (above video) or pole (below photo) touches a live wire.
You don’t want that to be you.
Thief escapes potential electrocution; live wires are no joke
Someone is walking around today not knowing that he or she just received the biggest Christmas present ever - life. Without realizing it, that individual was less than a millimeter away from being electrocuted last Thursday while trying to steal copper wire from energized electrical equipment in the Post Falls area. It was the third copper theft involving electrical equipment in the Rathdrum, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls area in the past few weeks.
A perpetrator isn’t the only person at risk with copper wire theft. Tampering with electric equipment can result in electrocution of utility workers and customers. It also costs Avista customers since replacing the stolen equipment raises the cost of maintaining our system. And, copper theft can cause power outages that disrupt businesses, schools, essential services and life in general.
We need your help to prevent this type of crime and help prevent a serious injury to someone, even death. Call Avista at (800) 227-9187 or law enforcement if you see:
• people cutting or removing wires or equipment from power facilities
• missing sections of power lines
• loose wires hanging from poles or lying on the ground
• holes in fences or cut locks at electric facilities
• people with bundles of wire
If you don’t know what coming into contact with, or touching an energized power line looks like, check out the video clip above of a safety demonstration by two Avista linemen. Remember that you should always consider an electric wire to be energized, so stay away and call us: (800) 227-9187.
Nov 07 , 2011
Avista employees rescue stranded shopping cart, remove rusted blight from Spokane River
When Avista’s Ben McArthur saw an unsightly blight in the middle of the Spokane River, near the Hamilton Street Bridge, he didn’t ignore it like the thousands of others who passed by it every day. He and his co-workers took action. A red grocery store shopping cart had found its way onto a small island in the middle of the river. No one is sure exactly how it got there. Low water levels made it stand out.
McArthur and friends would have none of it. McArthur contacted fellow employee Celene Olgeirsson who just happens to be the President of the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club. As an experienced kayaker Olgeirsson had the right equipment and knowledge to do the heavy lifting in the water and ensure the safety of all involved.
McArthur and Olgeirsson, with the help of another Avista employee, Ray Burnham, spent a lunch hour near the end of October on the project. On a crisp, clear day, Olgeirsson glided out to the island and attached a rope to the cart, while those on shore pulled it in. The whole deal took only 45 minutes.
Avista employees do an annual volunteer river clean up near the Mission Campus and regularly find large discarded items on Avista’s adopted mile of the Centennial Trail – shopping carts, tires and furniture included. Rarely do items make it so far into the river.
McArthur returned the cart to store employees, who promised to properly dispose of the wreckage.
Kudos to McArthur, Olgeirsson and Burnham for bettering the Spokane River for the community.
River users should be sure to follow all posted safety warning and closure signs on the water and especially near hydroelectric facilities. For more information about safety in the river and near dams, click here.
Oct 27 , 2011
The temperature is dropping and you are likely to feel the chill. So if someone knocks on your door and wants to make sure you home has enough insulation or good windows, you might be tempted to let them in. Unfortunately, sometimes they drop Avista’s name – and they do not work for us. So I wanted to share with you Avista’s standard business practices that can keep you safe from scams and misrepresentations.
Avista field employees always wear an Avista
photo identification badge and often wear Avista
apparel and drive clearly marked Avista vehicles.
Avista does not partner with any business that goes door-to-door through neighborhoods selling attic insulation or other services, except for our Home Energy Audit contractors in Spokane County who wear Avista identification badges. We also do not recommend any business to our customers. We do offer a number of energy efficiency rebates and incentives, but we work directly with you, our customer, on those programs.
Our field employees always wear an Avista photo ID badge and often will be wearing Avista apparel and driving a clearly marked Avista vehicle (may be a magnet on the side). Employees typically do not need access to a home or business unless the customer has contacted us about a specific problem or program. Also, employees do not phone or email customers asking for confidential information.
If you are contacted by someone representing themselves as Avista, you can call us at any time at (800) 227-9187 to verify the identification of an employee and the purpose of the contact with you. It pays to be cautious and we welcome your call.