May 30 , 2012
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
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.
May 23 , 2012
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.
May 11 , 2012
Spokane River and Clark Fork River work targets fish survival, habitat and doing the right thing
If you’ve ever dipped a fishing rod into any of our local lakes or rivers you’re already aware of the great natural resources we enjoy in the Northwest. Because Avista operates hydroelectric facilities on the Clark Fork and Spokane rivers, we’ve made a commitment to the environment as part of our daily operations throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
Two great examples of Avista’s commitment to environmental stewardship are reducing invasive lake trout in Lake Pend Oreille and studying rainbow trout spawning on the Spokane River. These projects were featured in a 2010 “Safekeeping” segment of the Columbia Country television program which aired on Fox stations.
Clark Fork River
The Clark Fork Project segment features an ongoing collaborative project on Lake Pend Oreille to reduce the population of invasive lake trout. Lake Pend Oreille was once a world-class fishery for rainbow trout, bull trout and kokanee. In recent years, the lake has been taken over by lake trout (also called mackinaw), which do not coexist well with native bull trout, and which prey on kokanee, depleting the food sources for rainbow and bull trout. This project offers angler incentives and brings in commercial netters to “fish out” the invasive lake trout. Since this program’s inception more than 139,000 lake trout have been removed from the lake.
Avista helps fund the Lake Pend Oreille project through our Clark Fork Project license, which includes Noxon Rapids Dam in Montana and Cabinet Gorge Dam in northern Idaho.
The Spokane segment features a rainbow trout spawning study on the Spokane River, part of our 50-year operating license for the five hydroelectric developments that make up Avista’s Spokane River Project. The spawning study is part of a 10-year collaboration with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to better understand the relationship between river flow and the rainbow trout population and their spawning habitat from Monroe Street Dam downstream to Nine Mile Dam.
In each of the last two years, in partnership with WDFW, we’ve captured and tagged more than 800 rainbow trout in the river below the Monroe Street Dam downstream to the Nine Mile Reservoir. This part of the 10-year study is to understand how many trout are in the Spokane River and the habitat they use. We will capture and tag rainbow trout again this October.
A similar project has been in effect for several years in the Upper Spokane River, and we hope this project will help us better understand how managing river flows affects water levels in Lake Coeur d’Alene and habitat for rainbow trout downstream. By doing so, we hope to ultimately encourage growth of the rainbow trout population in the Spokane River.
Both of these projects show how Avista works with others to care for the natural resources affected by our projects. They are great examples of how we make our commitment to environment part of our daily operations throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
May 11 , 2012
Avista’s work on the Spokane River aesthetic flows project was completed in October of 2011. The project took place in the river in downtown Spokane and received a lot of attention from curious onlookers last summer.
The reason behind the project wasn’t just about looks, as the name suggests. While the overall goal was to create a cascading waterfall effect through the channels of the Spokane River that run north and south of Canada Island, the work was related to the aesthetic spills requirement of our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license.
In 2009, Avista was issued a new 50-year license by FERC to operate our five hydroelectric dams on the Spokane River (Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake). The purpose of the aesthetic flows project was to return the river’s channels to a more natural state, the way they were before early developers in Spokane cut into the bedrock to divert water during dry times.
Weirs, which are concrete structures, were installed in the riverbed to divert water. Before construction on the project began, Avista brought together several stakeholder groups, including the Washington Department of Ecology, The Sierra Club, and others, to take part in a pilot test for the project using sandbags as temporary weirs to divert the water. The feedback we received helped us determine the placement for the permanent weirs.
Land Expressions LLC, was awarded the contact and did an outstanding job constructing the weirs to match the natural basalt bedrock as much as possible, including consideration for the existing terrain’s texture and color.
In addition to providing aesthetic attributes, the project will accommodate fish passage at various water flow levels that are determined by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Ecology. During the project, fish biologists and contractors were on site, relocating fish safely downstream due to the river flow being temporarily stopped while the weirs are constructed.
Now that the project is complete, water flows more evenly throughout the two channels of the river and produces a more pleasing flow of water through Riverfront Park. This time of year the work isn’t too noticeable because flows are so high, but come summer time, take a stroll through Riverfront Park and check out the river’s new look.
May 09 , 2012
Avista is working to improve paths and viewing points along the Spokane River
Pedestrians can still access the suspension bridge to
get some great views of the Spokane River, however
the south entrance of the bridge near the Upper Falls
powerhouse will be closed for construction.
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also
have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in
the beautiful Spokane River.
The footbridge near the viewing platform will be open
to pedestrians during Memorial Day weekend.
Beginning this week, Riverfront Park visitors in downtown Spokane will be detoured away from the south end of the suspension bridge by Avista’s Upper Falls Dam powerhouse.
For the next four weeks, Avista is working on a project to improve the deteriorated asphalt roadway and powerhouse parking area. The asphalt roadway will be repaved with asphalt, concrete will be installed in front of the powerhouse, and reinforced turf and porous pavers and grass will be installed in this area. These improvements will improve access to the powerhouse and will make for an easier, safer trek for pedestrians crossing the bridge.
You can still enjoy the great views on the bridge by accessing it from the north side of Canada Island; you just can’t cross the bridge on the south end until the work is complete. The nearest river crossing in the park is Howard Street Bridge, just east of the suspension bridge by the Upper Falls Powerhouse. Signs will be posted to redirect park users.
Safety is a top priority at Avista. During our project, you may see workers, cranes, and other construction equipment in the area. For your safety, please obey posted signs and stay out of fenced-off areas.
New viewing platform
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in the beautiful Spokane River. Avista constructed the viewing platform last fall so we could access the Upper Falls Dam for maintenance and upgrades. This spring, we’re working on the east end of Havermale Island to complete paving of the area. Spokane City Parks and Recreation will take it from there to put in plants and vegetation.
The footbridge near the viewing platform will be open to pedestrians during Memorial Day weekend.
The work we’re doing will improve pedestrian access and aesthetics at Riverfront Park.
May 07 , 2012
Avista is replacing nearly 9 miles of natural gas
pipeline in Davenport, Wash. The project is
estimated to cost more than $3 million. The
work will be conducted May to October.
Bring in the diggers and heavy equipment because construction is underway in Davenport, Wash., as Avista replaces nearly 9 miles of natural gas pipeline that’s approaching the end of its service life. The project carries a price tag of more than $3 million. It’s part of Avista’s commitment to maintain and upgrade our natural gas pipeline system.
From May through October, Avista-authorized contractor Loy Clark will be installing new natural gas pipelines in streets and alleys throughout Davenport.
As we replace the natural gas pipeline one section at a time, Davenport natural gas customers will experience a short interruption of service while we’re working on the natural gas pipeline in a specific area. Customers will be notified two days in advance of working in their neighborhood so they can plan ahead. Once the work is complete and service is restored, qualified Avista personnel or contractors will safely relight appliances, such as water heaters.
Attendance was light when we held an open house at the Davenport Memorial Hall on Wednesday, May 2, to answer questions about the project. Hopefully that means that folks in Davenport are comfortable with the project.
This six-month, $3 million project is just one example of how Avista must continually invest in maintaining and upgrading the natural gas pipelines that allow us to serve our customers.
May 04 , 2012
Thanks to new Smart Grid technology, approximately 6,500 Pullman customers can now access their real-time energy usage simply by logging onto their “My Avista” account. It’s the latest milestone in Avista’s Smart Grid Demonstration Project that’s underway in Pullman.
Avista has joined with regional partners, led by Battelle, to develop a smart grid demonstration project using matching stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The intent of the demonstration project is to show how smart grid technology can enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of energy delivery on a regional and national level.
The past two years have been spent designing, constructing and installing complex technology, including advanced meters, in the Pullman area that create the foundation for secure, two-way, wireless communication between customer meters and Avista.
As part of the demonstration project, Avista recently started a one-year study designed to test whether access to energy usage information has any potential impact on peoples’ behavior.
Approximately 6,500 randomly-selected customers in the Pullman area were given access to a special advanced meter web portal that lets them view their energy usage down to the hour, make adjustments and start saving energy based on their energy choices and behavior. They can see charts and graphs that track changes or trends and make more informed decisions about how to use energy.
The remaining customers in the Pullman area will not have access to the special Advanced Meter Web Portal until April 2013 when the study period concludes.
Studies like this are helping Avista learn how new technologies can enhance the safety, reliability and efficiency of energy delivery for all of our customers.
May 01 , 2012
Today First Wind officially broke ground on Palouse Wind, a wind farm near the town of Oakesdale off of State Route 195. Last year Avista signed a 30-year power purchase agreement for the renewable wind power that will be generated at the site once it’s completed later this year.
The wind farm is expected be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with 58 turbines and the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes.
The power we get from Palouse Wind will be part of a diverse, responsible energy portfolio that includes renewable resources generated right here in eastern Washington. In addition, the project is helping Avista invest in our infrastructure through the transmission upgrades we’re making so we can connect the power to our system. Palouse Wind will help Avista meet its goal of providing reliable energy to our customers at a reasonable cost, while meeting renewable portfolio standards in Washington.
The groundbreaking ceremony included speakers from Avista, First Wind, Vestas, as well as several elected officials from Whitman County and the surrounding area who discussed the benefits of the project to the area’s economy, the surrounding communities and Avista’s customers.
The event was held at the future site of the project’s substation, a leveled section of land among the rolling hills that dot the landscape.
The turbines and their massive blades are not up yet, but will be shipped from Colorado to Washington by train and then transferred by trucks to the site, where they’ll be erected this summer. It should be a site to see. When the turbines go up, we’ll update the blog.
Apr 27 , 2012
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.
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.
Apr 20 , 2012
By knowing what’s below, contractors and homeowners are making wise decisions
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.
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.