Apr 17 , 2013
Caller demanding immediate payment in unusual manner to avoid disconnection of service
Avista customers in the Palouse area and Lewiston are reporting receiving phone calls from an individual demanding that immediate payment of their utility bill be made by pre-paid cards or at a non-Avista location. All customers are cautioned that this is not Avista’s business practice and to be alert to this type of fraudulent phone call.
A customer with a past due amount is notified by letter if there is an outstanding balance that could result in a disconnection of service. Avista does not contact customers asking for confidential information, such as social security number, credit card number or banking information or demand immediate payment.
If a customer receives a phone call and feels pressured for immediate payment or to provide personal information, the customer should hang up the phone and contact Avista at (800) 227-9187. Customers can also call Avista any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
“The trust of our customers is very important. That’s why we want to make sure customers know our process for contacting them so they do not become a victim of scam artists,” said Mike Broemeling, Avista’s director of customer service. “Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone.”
Staying safe also means knowing who may be on your property. Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Customers should ask to see it if in doubt. If they don’t have identification, customers can ask them to leave.
Avista field employees wear a lime-green safety reflective vest with an Avista logo while others often wear a sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt or other similar clothing with an Avista logo. Authorized Avista contractors have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista Utilities.
Field employees and authorized contractors typically do not need access to the inside of your home unless you have contacted Avista directly about a specific problem.
Apr 10 , 2013
Your friends and neighbors will be green with envy if you win the playhouse that Avista employees built to support a brand new community fundraising event called Project Playhouse Spokane.
The 8-foot square playhouse sits atop a giant wooden recycled cable spool, has a solar panel that powers LED lights inside the playhouse and here’s the best feature – there’s a turbine-like propeller mounted on the exterior that you can spin by turning the attached wheel inside the playhouse. How cool is that?!
It’s sure to provide tons of fun for your children or grandkids! It could be yours – if you have the winning bid!
Avista’s playhouse will be one of 10 whimsical playhouses that will be auctioned off this Saturday to raise funds for the West Central Community Center, Northeast Youth Center and Peaceful Valley Community Center. All three centers provide support for local children and youth.
Avista employees volunteered their time and talent to design and build the playhouse. About half of the $3,000 in materials was donated by several vendors, while Avista contributed the other half, along with lots of creativity and enthusiasm.
“It was really fun to see it all come together. We used wind power as our design inspiration to give the playhouse an ‘energy’ theme. With the propeller for a wind turbine, solar panel, LED lights and recycled cable spool, it actually looks like something you’d expect to be created by a utility. We’re even including some safety cones and hard hats with the playhouse,” said Avista’s Jayson Hunnel, who spearheaded the effort and rallied employees to help build the creation.
It’s exciting for Avista to be part of the first-time ever Project Playhouse Spokane Auction. Let’s see how much money we can raise for the three centers and the children and youth that will benefit from the auction proceeds.
This is just one example of how Avista and our employees contribute our time, talent and treasure to the communities we serve.
For more information on Project Playhouse Spokane, call the West Central Community Center at 509-323-7480.
Mar 27 , 2013
Idaho customers provided more rate certainty over the next two years.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) has approved the multi-party settlement agreement in the electric and natural gas rate requests we filed last October. If you’re an Idaho natural gas customer, you’ll see two adjustments to your natural gas rates – April 1 and Oct. 1. Electric customers will see an adjustment on Oct. 1.
We’ve agreed not to request an increase in base retail rates that would take effect before Jan. 1, 2015. Other annual adjustments, such as for the cost of wholesale natural gas and purchased power, can still be requested since they are a separate part of your rate and have no impact on earnings. This means you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better manage your energy costs.
The bottom line
As a result of the approval, you’ll see two rate changes if you’re an Avista Idaho natural gas customer:
- Beginning April 1, if you use an average 60 therms of natural gas a month, you’ll see an increase of $2.82 a month for a revised bill of $55.37.
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an additional increase of $0.31 for a revised bill of $55.68.
If you’re an electric customer using an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month:
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an increase of $2.04 for a revised monthly bill of $80.73.
Mar 01 , 2013
If you have a few minutes today, check out the amazing winning videos
in Avista’s annual Every Little Bit Video Contest. The Grand Prize award went to Pullman High School students Shantara Pintak, Matthew Winchell and Mike Crawford for their “Watts & Hertz” video (pictured above left). Each received an Apple iPad 3 and a tour of COMRADE Studio in Spokane with the opportunity to help prepare their video for television. Pullman High School teacher and Multimedia class instructor Doug Winchell received a $2,500 technology grant for his class.
Students in Doug’s class are no strangers to the video contest. This is the third consecutive year that a video from a student team at Pullman High School has received a technology grant through the Every Little Bit Video Contest, last year receiving the Viewer’s Choice award. Three Pullman High School teams also received Honorable Mention awards in last year’s contest.
Viewer’s Choice, as voted by visitors to the Every Little Bit Video website, went to Ferris High School students Mark Balabanov, Colin Calvert, Irina Peregudova for their “Be Bolt” video (pictured above right). Each received an Apple iPod Nano and the school received a $1,500 technology grant which media instructor Joan Conger said would go toward a new boom microphone for the class.
The contest gives high school students the opportunity to create short videos demonstrating the importance of energy efficiency practices and its benefit for the environment. By engaging students in the importance of using energy wisely today, they’ll be better stewards tomorrow.
Congratulations to these talented and creative students!
Feb 06 , 2013
Proposed settlement provides more certainty for customers to manage energy costs over the next two years
Today we announced a settlement agreement with several parties on the Idaho electric and natural gas general rate requests we filed back in October
. You can read our news release here
. The settlement, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or commission) would mean a two-phase rate increase in electric and natural gas rates. The first would take effect April 1, 2013 and the second on Oct. 1, 2013.
As part of the settlement, we’ve agreed not to request additional general rate increases that would take effect before Jan. 1 of 2015. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t adjust rates based on power supply or wholesale natural gas costs before then (remember, that’s a separate part of your bill). For more information about how we adjust those costs, read our Natural Gas Pricing 101
series or visit our website area About Natural Gas and Power Costs
But what it does mean is that you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better plan to manage your energy costs. And your energy prices will still be among the lowest in the nation
The bottom line
Here’s how the changes, if approved would affect your energy bill.
If the commission approves the settlement and you are an Avista electric customer, you would see one general rate increase:
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an increase of $2.04 per month, for a revised bill of $80.73.
Here’s how the changes, if approved, would affect you as a natural gas customer:
• Beginning April 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an increase of $2.82 a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.37.
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an additional increase of 31 cents a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.68.
The settlement and what’s next
You may be wondering what a rate case settlement agreement is and how it all works. When Avista files a request to increase rates, it goes through a process much like a legal proceeding. Parties representing various groups including residential, small-business, low-income and electric industrial customers, participate on behalf of their groups.
The commission oversees this process, and is charged with setting rates that are fair, just, and reasonable for customers, while allowing Avista the opportunity to earn a fair return on the investment shareholders make so we can continue delivering safe, reliable energy. When we can reach an agreement like this one, it saves time and the cost of a fully litigated rate case. It is ultimately up to the commission to approve the request.
In addition to Avista, the parties to the proposed settlement are the Staff of the IPUC, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Idaho Forest Group and The Idaho Conservation League. The IPUC will establish a procedural schedule to gather comments on the proposed settlement from parties to the rate case, as well as customers of Avista, prior to making a decision. For more information, see the IPUC website
Here is another resource about how energy rates are set that you might find helpful.
Feb 05 , 2013
Scams - it seems like hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear or read about one somewhere.
Unfortunately, scams involving utilities are not new. To help make sure you don’t fall victim to someone representing themselves as Avista, we want you to know about our standard business practices.
• Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Ask to see it if you are in doubt. If they don’t have identification, you can ask them to leave.
• Some of our field employees wear a lime-green safety reflective vest with an Avista logo while others often wear a sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt or other similar clothing with an Avista logo.
• Authorized Avista contractors have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista Utilities.
• Field employees and authorized contractors typically do not need access to the inside of your home unless you have contacted Avista directly about a specific problem.
• As a customer, you should not receive a phone call or email from us asking for your confidential information, such as security number, credit card number or banking information or demanding immediate payment over the phone. Instead a customer with a past due amount would be notified by letter of the outstanding balance and possible disconnection of service.
• If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an Avista representative asking for your confidential information, end the call and phone us at (800) 227-9187. That’s our customer service number which is also located on your Avista bill. You can also call us any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone.
Feb 01 , 2013
Each year Avista makes more than $1 million in donations to non-profit organizations in the communities we serve. In 2012, that giving totaled more than $1.6 million, up from $1.4 million in 2011. Funding for these donations comes from Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation
. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.
And, our employees are generous with their time and talents as well. Last year, Avista employees gave nearly 50,000 hours of volunteer service to community organizations in their hometowns.
One of the largest volunteer efforts in 2012 was Avista’s participation in the Salvation Army’s annual “Backpack for Kids” program. Partnering alongside community volunteers, more than 120 employees staffed the 10-hour day, giving away more than 3,700 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, serving more than 1,500 families.
“Even without the charity this company gives to the community, Avista and its employees make the Inland Northwest a better place to live,” said Captain Kyle Smith, Salvation Army Corps officer. “We greatly appreciate the leadership Avista has shown throughout the years in strengthening the safety net services for those most in need in our community.”
Supporting essential human care services as well as the arts, education and economic vitality are essential elements of our role as a partner in the communities we serve.
Jan 24 , 2013
Sealing of ductwork for heating and cooling systems could reduce energy costs by up to 30 percent.
Most times if something seems too good to be true, it is. But with Avista’s new Manufactured Home Duct Sealing Program, qualifying customers in Washington can have their home’s ductwork sealed and receive other energy efficiency products at no cost. The service, a $500 value, can help customers save up to 30 percent on their energy bill. The program is scheduled to run through the end of June 2013.
To qualify for the free Manufactured Home Duct Sealing Program, a resident must be an Avista electric or natural gas customer in Washington living in a manufactured home that:
- is heated primarily by a forced air furnace
has ductwork outside the heated space (in attic or crawl space)
- is the customer’s year-round residence, not a vacation home; and
- the customer owns or has permission from their landlord to participate in the program
Avista has teamed up with UCONS, LLC to administer the program and perform the sealing work. As part of the service to Avista customers, UCONS will also install compact fluorescent light bulbs and leave customers with a free standard air filter replacement and efficient, high-performance showerhead.
UCONS representatives will be going door-to-door to manufactured homes with information to discuss the free service with Avista’s Washington customers. Residents can easily identify UCONS representatives by their Avista safety vests and identification. Qualifying customers can also call UCONS, LLC at 800-657-0135 to schedule a visit or for more information.
Jan 23 , 2013
Avista Utilities will start to draw down the water level at Lake Spokane
(Long Lake Reservoir) today. Operators expect to lower the reservoir up to one foot per day for a two to three-week period, until it reaches its winter elevation of 13 to 14 feet below maximum summer elevation of 1,536 feet.
Under the right weather conditions, which include sustained periods of single-digit temperatures and little or no snow on the exposed lakebed, the drawdown is expected to help control Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic weeds found in Lake Spokane. The drawdown also allows shoreline homeowners the opportunity to complete state and locally permitted repair and construction projects along the lake shoreline.
Property owners and lake-users are reminded to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate shifting ice and low-water conditions. Floating and removable docks are less susceptible to damage from shifting or changing ice levels.
The lower winter elevation will be maintained as long as river flows allow. However, during the drawdown period water levels are subject to change due to a variety of factors, such as weather (rain on snow events in the upper drainages) or maintenance at the Long Lake Dam. Lake users should always be alert to signs of such changes and exercise the highest level of personal caution and safety.
Avista also 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 is provided to advise 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.
Jan 15 , 2013
This year's trees are Red Oak (top) and
Sugar Maple (bottom).
If you live in Spokane County, you’re probably more concerned with shoveling snow right now than thinking about summer shade. But acting now could help you start saving on your summer energy bill.
We’ve teamed with the Spokane Conservation District (SCD) to again provide free shade trees to Avista electric customers living in Spokane County to help them reduce energy use and cost. A well-planned landscape, including strategically place shade trees, can reduce an unshaded home’s summer air conditioning costs.
Here are a couple of things you need to know about the program:
• The homeowner must be an Avista electric customer.
• There must be space for a large tree on the west or southwest side of the house - the sides that take the most sun and heat gain. Depending on the type of tree, it needs between 15 to 30 feet to prevent problems.
• The property must be your full-time home - recreational or seasonal homes are not eligible.
Applying to the program is easy, just fill out a registration form
and fax it to the SCD office at 509-535-7410 or mail it to Spokane Conservation District, 210 N. Havana St., Spokane, WA 99202. A SCD representative will contact you and visit your property to determine if there is enough space for a shade tree. If so, the best location for it will be marked and the tree will be planted for you on a later visit.
The program only plants 50 trees per season (50 in spring and 50 in autumn), so apply soon to secure a spot. If you don’t make it into the spring planting, try again for the fall one.
If you have any questions about the Avista Shade Tree Program, please contact SCD’s Garth Davis at 535-7274, ext.212.