Apr 06 , 2012
River runoff
 
Post by Dan Kolbet 
Video by Brandi Smith
The spill gates at our Post Falls Dam are roaring today as seen in this quickie video posted to our Facebook page. Best advice: Stay out of the river in high water. Safety first people!

There was a river rescue earlier today near Gonzaga. According to a Spokesman-Review story posted today, "[Spokane] officials warn that no one, especially children, should go in the river. People also are advised to stay away from flooded bike and walking paths along the river."
 
Published: 4/6/2012  11:36 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 04 , 2012
-Helmet contest in honor of visit by the 811 Damage Prevention Bike created by Paul Jr. Designs
 

The new 811 Damage Prevention Bike created by Paul Jr. Designs 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.

In honor of the occasion, Avista is offering a chance for one lucky person to win and design his or her own custom painted motorcycle helmet with the help of Spokane artist Greg Roybal. Entry is easy, just “like” us on Facebook. Sorry, but employees and their family members are not eligible to win. It’s that easy.

Avista is partnering with the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council (IEUCC) to bring the bike to Spokane at no cost. 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.
 
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: 4/4/2012  3:54 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 03 , 2012
Contractor dig-in causes gas outage impacting 105 homes or businesses; quick response gets customers relit in a hurry
 

Inspecting natural gas pipeline break.
An employee inspects the scene of a natural gas line
dig in at Dalton Gardens, Idaho last week. 105
homes or businesses were without gas overnight
during the repair and relight process.
When it comes to the 24/7-natural gas and electric service we all depend on, Avista’s top priority is to provide it safely and reliably. It is a commitment we all take seriously, and work hard to ensure every day.

An example of this occurred Monday, March 26 at a construction site in Dalton Gardens, Idaho. A contractor struck a four-inch steel natural gas line. The line break was blowing natural gas into the area. A four-inch line doesn’t seem big; however, that size natural gas pipeline can send natural gas to numerous commercial and residential buildings. For comparison, the internal diameter of a typical residential natural gas line is roughly three-quarters of an inch.

We received the emergency call around 4 p.m., just as our natural gas crews were getting ready to go home from their workday. A crew responded immediately to secure the area from potential danger and repair the natural gas line.

After working for nearly 24 hours between their normal workday and the emergency response, the three-man crew finished the repair.  Another crew arrived early in the morning to go door-to-door to all 105 businesses and residences to ensure their natural gas service was back on and to relight their natural gas appliances. 

Though larger natural gas line incidents rarely occur, you can count on us 24/7 when they do. That’s standing by our commitment to provide safe and reliable service to your homes and businesses.

What you should do if there is a gas leak outdoors
Below are some instructions on what to do if a natural gas line is ever struck or you believe there is a leak nearby.
When outdoors, look for these signs:
• Rotten egg odor in the air. We add an odorant that smells like rotten eggs so you’ll know right away if there is a problem.
• Blowing or hissing sound
• Dust blowing from a hole in the ground
• Continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas
• Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area

In the event of a natural gas leak, your safety and of those around you are priority one. Any time you smell or hear a gas leak, take these precautions:

• Evacuate the immediate area. Leave immediately on foot in the direction away from where the gas is leaking. Warn others to keep away from the affected area.
• Call Avista Utilities at 1-800-227-9187, and stay on the phone with us until we have all the information we need to send help. Never assume someone else has already reported the leak.

Because natural gas is lighter than air, it becomes combustible when mixed with air and exposed to an ignition source. Don’t smoke, light matches, turn your electrical switches on or off, use the telephone or do anything else that might create a spark.

To report a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.

April is National Call Before You Dig Month
811
Spring is officially here; and with the warming of the season comes outdoor projects. Before you start digging any time of year, remember to make one easy phone call to 811 or a click of the mouse to http://www.call811.com to get your underground utility lines marked.
 
It’s easy and free. Just call 811 or request at http://www.call811.com at least two business days before you dig, and a professional locator will come to your proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of the lines. Once you know where they are, it’s safe to start digging.

Know what's below. Always call before you dig. You can find more information about the Call Before You Dig program at http://www.call811.com or at http://www.avistautilities.com (keyword search: call before you dig).
 
 
Published: 4/3/2012  9:54 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 02 , 2012
April is National Call Before You Dig month

Those boots are made for digging . . .
"Those boots are made for digging and that’s
just what they’ll do, but one of these days if you
don’t call 811" . . . OK, so song lyrics don’t really
fit here. Call 811 two days before digging to
locate underground utility lines. 
It’s April and that can mean oone thing. Yep, it’s National Call Before You Dig month.

To mark the month, the governors of Washington, Idaho and Oregon have again issued proclamations for their respective states recognizing April as Safe Digging Month and encouraging citizens to call the 811 one-call service two days in advance for free locates of underground utilities lines.

Not calling before starting those spring projects that involve digging could mean injury, damages to utilities and service disruptions, and potential fines and repair costs. A number of communications are planned this month to help make sure customers and contractors know the importance of calling 811 or going online at www.callbeforeyoudig.org to request a locate of underground lines.

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: 4/2/2012  9:12 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 23 , 2012
46 new trail lights a result of new natural gas pipeline serving Clarkston area

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Lights on the trail
The lights on the left are a few of the 46 new lights
Avista installed on the Greenbelt Trail in Clarkston.
Avista recently installed the last of 46 safety lights along the Greenbelt Trail in Clarkston, Wash. The new lights turn on at dusk and help illuminate the popular recreation area. The project was born out of Avista’s new 2.8-mile natural gas pipeline extension in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley that will help reinforce gas service to Avista customers in the Clarkston area.

In order to install the new pipeline, Avista needed access to land managed by the Army Corp of Engineers. As in-kind consideration in lieu of fees for conducting this project, Avista agreed to install 46 lights along the trail from Chestnut Beach to Swallows Boat Ramp parking lot, at an approximate cost of $71,500.

“The new natural gas pipeline in Clarkston is great for the reliability of our service to customers in the area,” said Avista Regional Business Manager Mike Tatko. “But the Greenbelt Trail lighting project is another very visible benefit to Avista customers and all area residents who use the trail."

The natural gas pipeline project began in mid-July 2011 and was in service by December 2011, just in time to provide heat to homes and businesses during the colder winter months.  The lighting work began in December 2011 and was completed on March 16, 2012.

Avista owns and will maintain the lights along the trail. 

 
Published: 3/23/2012  9:36 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 20 , 2012
Post by Dan Kolbet
811
 
 
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.
Published: 3/20/2012  3:24 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 05 , 2012
A first-hand account of my experience with Avista's home energy audit program
 
 
Blower door test
The blower door test detects excess air escaping and entering
your home.
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.
 

Energy efficiency kit
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.
Published: 3/5/2012  4:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 24 , 2012

Bike

 

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.
Published: 2/24/2012  3:41 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 06 , 2012
By Brandi Smith

Click here to read the newsletter
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

Other stories you might enjoy:
 
Published: 2/6/2012  3:23 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 19 , 2012

Crew photo

Post by Dan Kolbet
 
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.
 
Published: 1/19/2012  1:24 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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