Jul 09 , 2014
We all wish we could look into a crystal ball and see what the future brings, especially for our region’s economy. At Avista, we need to know what our customers’ needs will be 5, 10, or even 15 years down the road. There’s no crystal ball, so we use data and research to help inform decision makers and forecast our own economic climate so that we can continue to serve the same low-cost, reliable power to customers that we’ve provided for the last 125 years.
Leading the way is our Chief Economist, Dr. Grant Forsyth. From both a company and community standpoint, Grant is widely recognized as the resident expert when it comes to providing data that helps internal and external leaders make informed research-based decisions that benefit all of us.
Within Avista, Grant spends much of his time running statistical models to forecast energy load, which helps plan for future energy needs. He also serves as a consultant on special projects, where his research background as a Ph.D. and an Eastern Washington University professor of economics for more than a decade, make him a perfect fit for Avista.
“At Avista, people reach out to me for empirical data for special projects,” Grant said. “For example, we had somebody in health and safety that needed an analysis of languages spoken in our service territory. With my academic research background, I knew where to go to get the data and maintain the database for them.”
Grant’s teaching experience also serves an external purpose in his position: public speaking. Any given day, he speaks to local and regional groups of 5 to 500 or more. He keynotes events like Greater Spokane Inc.’s Annual Economic Forecast, meets with local business groups and community leaders, and serves on a variety of local and state economic councils, including the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Spokane Mayor’s Council on Economic Vitality .
“I’m a resource for both businesses and the general public,” Grant said. “I often get inquiries about economic issues or what unemployment numbers are telling us. I have a lot of data and research at my fingertips, so I try my best to explain what the numbers mean rather than taking a position one way or the other.”
Well-versed in the economics locally and nationally, Grant is originally from Ellensburg, Wash., but has lived and worked in both the United States and Europe.
Cool fact: Grant worked in the Czech Republic from 1996 to 1999 during a time when the country was transitioning from one political and economic system to another.
Watch this Blog for future entries from Grant himself about the economics of our region.
Jun 30 , 2014
125-year legacy of giving will be strengthened for the future
Avista Corp. today announced that it has contributed $6.5 million to the Avista Foundation, a community investment program that provides funding to non-profit organizations addressing the needs of communities and citizens served by Avista Utilities in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, portions of southern Oregon, as well as Sanders County, Montana. The infusion brings the foundation’s endowment to approximately $10 million.
“This is a very exciting time for our company with the celebration of our 125th anniversary. Having a positive impact on our communities has always been a priority for Avista. Our legacy of active partnership and support for the vital work of community non-profits throughout our service area is a significant part of our company’s value system,” said Avista Corp. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Morris. “Growing the foundation’s endowment will help us sustain the donation program into the future, supporting opportunities to build community and economic vitality in our region.”
Corporate and foundation giving in 2013 exceeded $1.5 million for programs and services in communities, including Spokane, Pullman and Clarkston, Wash.; Coeur d’Alene, Moscow, Lewiston and Sandpoint, Idaho; Klamath Falls and Medford, Oregon; and Sanders County, Montana, to name a few locations.
The Avista Foundation was established in 2002 with the objective of making a difference in our communities in a positive and sustainable way. It is not funded from customers’ energy bills. Since its founding the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling more than $3 million. The foundation focuses its giving in the areas of:
- education – K-12 education particularly in the fields of science, math and technology; and higher education including scholarships,
- vulnerable and limited income populations – providing assistance to those on limited incomes and support for initiatives to reduce poverty, and
- economic and cultural vitality – supporting projects that help communities and citizens to grow and prosper.
Mar 18 , 2014
We are proud to be a part of powering your future.
On March 13, 1889, Avista, formerly known as Washington Water Power, was incorporated eight months before the Washington Territory became a state. Today, the company is one of only three companies remaining in the state that are classified as Territorial Corporations – incorporated before Washington’s statehood. (See a Video of the presentation.)
The company began on the banks of the Spokane River with the Monroe Street plant, using hydropower to generate electricity for the growing city of Spokane Falls. Today, clean, renewable resources remain a significant part of the company’s diversified mix for energy generation.
Over the generations of providing energy services, one thing has remained constant for our company: We are honored to provide the energy and resources that have helped families and commerce be successful, whether it is in the home, enjoying the outdoors or building successful businesses. We’re proud to call each community we serve “home,” and we’re proud to be your partner in bringing energy for life.
History by Region
Our service territory spans more than 30,000 miles throughout Washington, Northern Idaho, and Oregon. The communities we serve have a rich history that we’re proud to be part of. We’ve captured some of these highlights in our 125th Anniversary Tabloid. You can view it online or download and print. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane by region.
Huntington Park in Downtown Spokane to open in May
On May 2, 2014, Avista will celebrate the renovation of Huntington Park, property the company owns along the banks of the Spokane River, just west of Spokane’s City Hall. The renovation and enhancements include work on the walkways, grassy areas and structures to provide residents and visitors greater access to the river and views of the falls.
A new plaza at City Hall will be dedicated that day as a gift to Spokane in celebration of the company’s 125 anniversary. The new plaza will create open-air space for gatherings and river viewing, and includes two water features and a fire feature.
For the first time in more than 100 years, the view of the spectacular lower falls of the Spokane River will be opened up for easy viewing from the park, the plaza or the streets of Spokane.
Learn more about Huntington Park.
Salmon Chief to oversee Huntington Park
Artist Virgil “Smoker” Marchand created an inspirational Native American sculpture – Salmon Chief - to oversee Huntington Park, which will be dedicated in May.
Marchand says the sculpture represents a Native American tradition of a man who was appointed to ensure all area tribes received enough Salmon to make it through the winter.
The Native American sitting atop his horse is raising the salmon like a blessing to the river. The horse and man statute is over 12-feet tall and took more than three weeks to make. Several other pieces will be added to the display in the spring.
Mar 12 , 2014
Why would engineers from Bangladesh come all the way to Spokane? To see Avista’s smart grid upgrades up close and personal, of course.
Members of Bangladesh’s Rural Electrification Board are spending several weeks in Pullman learning about power engineering from Washington State University faculty. Their curriculum includes a field trip to Avista.
They learned about the investments Avista’s made to transform Pullman, Wash into the region’s first “smart city,” toured one of our state-of-the art substations and traveled to Spokane to meet with 3 Avista engineers who are leading our grid modernization projects. They saw first-hand how the switches, sensors and software we’ve installed are improving reliability for customers and enhancing the energy efficiency of our distribution system.
“We are working for the villagers,” said Abdul Aziz, an executive engineer with the Rural Electrification Board. “We are learning methods at WSU that will help us bring the villagers better service and an improved distribution system.”
Our friends from Bangladesh learned a lot from our engineers -- and they’ll bring those lessons home.
We can’t wait to share our knowledge with another group of Bangladesh visitors later this month.
Mar 11 , 2014
On Thursday, March 13th Avista Utilities is hosting a public information meeting to update the community on details for the restoration and upgrade of the over 100-year-old South Channel Dam at the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development (HED). The meeting will take place from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at the Post Falls City Administration Building, 408 N. Spokane Street.
The public is invited to attend the event, which will outline the project details and construction plans. The presentation will be followed by an open Q&A session where you can talk with project experts. Q’emiln Park, including the boat launch, swim area, trailhead and pavilion, and the Spokane River between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boaters safety cables are expected to be open as normal this summer with limited exceptions.
The construction methods that will be used in the project were chosen to minimize disruption in the area, while protecting the safety of the public, environment and wildlife. The project, designed to restore the dam located on the south channel of the Spokane River near Q’emiln Park, is expected to begin this spring with construction completed by December 2014 and final road work and landscaping to be completed in spring 2015.
It’s easy to stay up-to-date on project information and impacts. Just send us an email at SpokaneRiverNews@avistacorp.com
and you will be added to the distribution list for our email alerts. Be sure to type "Post Falls Updates" in the subject line and include your name and email address in the body text. You can also get timely project information, including the project fact sheet on our website. Just type “Post Falls Dam” in the Ask a Question field.
Feb 12 , 2014
Inland Northwest homes and businesses typically see highest energy bills of the year in January and February. And this year isn’t any different as we have seen a long winter heating season. With sustained cold temperatures, heating systems run longer and work harder to keep the temperature at the level set on the thermostat which increases energy use.
In addition to energy use, the number of days in a billing cycle will also have an impact on energy bills. The average number of days in a billing cycle is 31, but it can range from 28 to 34 depending on the number of days in a month and any holidays. The number of days in a customer’s billing cycle is displayed on each monthly bill.
Heating and cooling a home can make up as much as half of annual energy use, so taking steps in winter to keep the warm air inside the home and the cold air outside can help manage energy use. Some easy ways to get started include:
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees and lower it to 63 at night and when leaving the house. If you have a heat pump as the main heating source, a two to three degree setback is what is recommended. Installing a programmable thermostat will let you set it and forget it.
- Seal air leaks by installing door sweeps on exterior doors or putting a towel at the bottom of the door, caulking around windows and exterior doors, and installing foam insulators behind switch plates and outlet covers on exterior walls.
- Clean or replace furnace filters regularly. And, keep vents clear of obstructions.
- Electric space heaters are more efficient when used to heat a smaller occupied space or in a common area that is generally cooler than the rest of the house.
- Limit using an open fireplace when it is extremely cold because the fireplace will draw heated air from your home and send it up the chimney.
Additional, there are low- and no-cost energy efficiency information, including rebates and incentives available for customers
. You can also access tools
that provide a month-to-month comparison of their bills with details on factors impacting each bill and other helpful information, such as a graph on two-year energy consumption.
Feb 04 , 2014
Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Avista has not filed a general rate request in Washington since April 2012. If approved, the new rates would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Here are the details about the request:
The filing includes:
· a request for a 3.8 percent increase in base revenues for capital investments
· the expiration of two rebates customers are currently receiving that are reducing monthly electric bills by 2.8 percent
· the proposal of a new rebate that would reduce customer bills by 1.1 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $15
These rebates are passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis and do not increase or decrease the company’s earnings.
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 965 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $4.89 per month or 6.1 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $84.98
The filing includes:
· a request for an increase in base revenues of 8.1 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $12
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 65 therm per months would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $5.23 per month or 8.5 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $66.42
This request will take time to be approved. In Washington, this can take up to 11 months, during which time the commission will thoroughly review Avista’s request and costs as well as relevant data and take public comments. Once reviewed, the commission will approve rates they feel are reasonable and fair.
The cost of energy and customer rates
The main driver in filing the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. We expect capital investments of $335 million in 2014, up from $280 million in 2013. These investments include upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas pipe and information technology upgrades.
Keeping rates fair and reasonable for our customers is a key part of our decision making. It’s a balance. The cost of energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.
What does this investment look like?
Below are some capital projects that are included in the rate request.
Post Falls South Channel Dam Project
Beginning spring 2014, Avista will upgrade the 106-year-old South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project includes:
· replacing the original concrete on the structure that helps control water levels of Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of the three rivers
· installing new electronic gates and hoists
· installing new electrical and controls to automate the opening and closing of the spillway gates, increasing efficiencies and reducing cost
This work will increase reliability and preserve the life of this important generation resource.
Nine Mile Powerhouse Project
We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, also 106-years-old. . The project will replace original generators, turbines and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power.
Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System
Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of Avista’s day-to-day customer operations. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, it needs to be replaced. The system touches all of our customers and supports traditional utility business functions, such as meter reading, customer billing, payment processing, credit, customer service orders and material management.
Natural Gas Pipe Replacement
Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline that was installed prior to 1987.
Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.
Jan 15 , 2014
We want to make sure you know about the latest national scam involving electric utility customers. Phishers, those who try to acquire your confidential information by posing as a trustworthy entity, are currently impersonating two different companies by sending electronic bills to customers of other utilities.
If you are an Avista customer and receive an electronic bill from PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric), Atmos Energy or any other energy provider requesting information about your account, you should take the following precautions:
- Do not open the email which includes malicious links that go to compromised websites hosting malware
- Do not respond to the request
- Do not click on any links in the email
- Do not open any attachments
- Do not provide any personal information
There have been several reports from Avista customers who received one of the bogus energy bills.
We are also receiving reports from customers receiving calls from an individual claiming to be from Avista and demanding immediate payment of a past due bill or their service will be disconnected immediately. This type of call is not coming from Avista.
If you receive a call demanding immediate payment or some type of immediate action such as purchasing a Green Dot MoneyPak or going to a specific retail location to make a same day payment, you should end the call without providing any information or taking any action. Also, report the call to your local law enforcement and notify Avista by calling our contact center at (800) 227-9187.
Avista field employees do not go to a customer’s premise to demand payment in order to avoid an immediate disconnection of service. Any Avista employee or authorized contractor will have an Avista photo identification badge. Ask to see the badge if you are in doubt about why someone is on your premise or representing themselves as being from Avista. If the individual does not have the proper identification, you can ask that person to leave. Report the instance to your local law enforcement if you believe you have been the target of a scam.
Scam attempts are always occurring, so play it safe. Do not provide your confidential information to anyone or fall victim to high pressure tactics for payment. If you’re in doubt about a phone call or someone representing Avista, contact us at (800) 227-9187.
Nov 27 , 2013
It’s part of our DNA...sharing our time, talent and treasure with those most in need in the communities Avista serves. This year is no exception.
The bright smiling face of KREM2’s Tom Sherry can only be matched by the warmth and thankfulness of those who receive Thanksgiving dinners during the annual Tom’s Turkey Drive each year.
Avista employees and the Avista Credit Union donated $8,900 which was matched by the Avista Foundation for a total donation of $17,800. These funds help provide approximately 11,000 meals – the goal for this year. That amount would feed 40,000 – 50,000 people (based on 4-6 servings per meal). Avista’s total donation will pay for 890 meals, thus feeding 3,600 to 5,300 individuals.
Avista’s history with Tom’s Turkey Drive dates back to the very beginning. Avista was one of the first companies to join with Sherry in this annual event. Once we were on board, other companies wanted to join, too. It’s a program that aligns with Avista’s strategy of supporting community vitality.
On another giving front, Avista employees helped sort and distribute thousands of items to help Spokane community members stay warm through Project Warm-Up. The program provides thousands of knitted, crocheted and sewn items for those in need through 51 non-profit agencies. Since the program began in 1991, more than 100,000 items have been distributed.
Earlier this month our employees helped sort, count and prepare thousands of items for distribution. They enjoyed seeing all of the items created by more than 200 talented volunteers. The youngest volunteer is an 8-year-old great-granddaughter of a senior volunteer, while the oldest is 98, according to the Project Warm Program Coordinator, Teri Wallace.
The majority of crafters are housebound and Project Warm-Up is their way of being able to give back to the community from their home. Knowing they are helping someone in need gives the volunteers a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Other volunteers are people who live in retirement apartment complexes or assisted living facilities, are high school-aged individuals who are fulfilling a community service requirement or even younger who participate just for the fun of it.
Project Warm-Up is one of the many community programs that Avista staff enthusiastically gives their time and energy to support. Over a three-day period, Avista staff loaded, sorted, counted, and delivered 7,800 items that had been stored in our Post Street facility all year.
During this holiday season, we are warmed by the giving spirit our employees demonstrate in so many ways.
Nov 14 , 2013
When you think about historic structures in our region that have undergone important restoration, buildings like The Davenport Hotel, Fox Theater or the Steam Plant might come to mind.
Next year, one of Avista’s historic facilities will be given a much-needed facelift as well.
Built in 1906, the South Channel Dam at the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development (HED) is more than 100 years old. While it’s stood the test of time, we plan to continue the safe and reliable operation of the facility with an extensive restoration and upgrade beginning in spring 2014. Work is scheduled to be completed by December 2014.
The structure’s original facing concrete and gate frames, as well as the gates and manual rack and pinion hoists will be removed and replaced with new facing concrete, automated spillway gates and hoists. The improvements will preserve the life of the 106-year-old structure and automation will improve operation efficiencies.
During construction the project will affect some areas of Q’emiln Park. To maintain public safety, access to areas including the boat launch, trailhead and pavilion will be impacted. The west entrance road and adjacent portion of the park will be an active construction site with material, equipment and vehicles in the area. More information on the impact will be known after a contractor is selected in January 2014.
It’s easy to stay up-to-date on project information and impacts. Just send us an email at SpokaneRiverNews@avistacorp.com
and you will be added to the distribution list for our e-newsletter. Be sure to type "Post Falls Updates" in the subject line and include your name and email address in the body text. You can also get timely project information
, including the project fact sheet on our Website.
The Post Falls HED has been a key to helping Avista produce clean, renewable, low-cost power and it creates recreational opportunities like boating and swimming near Q’emiln Park.
Made up of three dams in the area, the Post Falls HED produces 15 megawatts of clean energy – that’s enough to power 11,250 homes – and helps control water levels of Lake Coeur d’Alene during the summer recreation season.