Our Generation and Production/Substation Support Department, which is responsible for engineering, maintaining, and operating Avista’s hydroelectric and thermal generation facilities, is committed to producing electrical energy and delivering it to our customers as safely and efficiently as possible. Avista’s engineers and operations staff ensure our hydroelectric developments are well-maintained and working efficiently, and that facility upgrades are completed as necessary to improve operations and generation capacity.
Ongoing maintenance and project upgrades will be posted here as future announcements, so you can keep up with what's happening.
Upper Falls Powerhouse Repainting
Completed in 1922, Avista's Upper Falls generating facility was instrumental in meeting the growing demand for dependable electricity in the growing city of Spokane. The energy from the plant helped power the area's electric streetcar system and street lighting, in addition to serving businesses and home.
Today, the 91-year-old Neo-Classical style plant is still quietly producing electricity in downtown Spokane's Riverfront Park, site of the 1974 World's Fair, and meeting the energy needs of a new era.
Beginning in August, Upper Falls will be getting a fresh coat of paint. The powerhouse, seawall, and utility vault and railings will have surface preparation and be repainted using the same historical colors of peach and robin egg blue. The seawall will be repainted grey. Work will be completed in early November.
To prevent debris from entering the Spokane River while removing the old paint and during the painting, a scaffold containment system will encompass the work areas and monitoring equipment will also be used. We are coordinating the project with the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department.
Riverfront Park Theme Stream Bridge
The bridge over the lower portion of the Theme Stream will be replaced. A legacy of the 1974 World's Fair, the 300-foot-long concrete Theme Stream was constructed in Riverfront Park as an ornamental feature for the fair.
The existing bridge is being replaced with a new bridge capable of handling heavier vehicle loads. The bridge is an important access point to Riverfront Park and is used for access to Avista's Upper Falls powerhouse. Construction is expected to be completed by early October.
Part of the project also includes removing abandoned concrete duct work on the hillside below the Theme Stream and west of Avista's Upper Falls powerhouse. The area along the river bank will be spruced up and made safer by removing non-native invasive vegetation, opening up views of the Spokane River for visitors to Riverfront Park.
Nine Mile Dam Rehabilitation Program
Completed in 1908, the Nine Mile Dam generated power to operate the railroad lines outside Spokane and also delivered power to neighboring communities. As at all our facilities, the dam needs ongoing maintenance and upgrades to keep it running smoothly and efficiently.
After studying a range of alternatives, Avista has started a Nine Mile Rehabilitation Program to restore full generation at the powerhouse and upgrade key facilities. This effort will include a series of projects stretching over the next seven years. Among these efforts are:
- Upgrading the powerhouse from 26 MW to 34 MW by replacing Units 1 and 2
- Rebuilding Units 3 and 4 turbines
- Restoring one of the cottages for an administrative office
- Building a new warehouse
We'll also complete a wide range of other electrical, mechanical and facility upgrades. So far, work has started on Cottage No. 6, and we removed Units 1 and 2. While you will be seeing and hearing more about these projects in upcoming years, the overall result will be a modernized, reliable generation facility and improvements to the Nine Mile Dam area for visitors.
Post Falls South Channel
The Post Falls Hydroelectric Development was completed in 1906 and consists of the North Channel, Middle Channel and South Channel Dams. In recent years, both the North Channel and Middle Channel Dams have had their facilities updated to keep them structurally stable, efficient and reliable. In 2014, Avista will continue this effort at the South Channel Dam by removing the original spillway gates and hoists and installing new spillway gates, hoists, appurtenant structures and general concrete repairs. A cofferdam will be constructed to facilitate the construction work. With typical in-river construction projects on the Spokane River, work is scheduled to begin as river flows allow, usually in the June-July timeframe, and lasting through Spring 2015.
Visitors to Q'emlin Park and Falls Park may see cranes, barges, trucks and contractors. Some areas of the parks, including pedestrian trails, will be temporarily fenced off and detours will be designated for park visitors. In an emergency, the boat launch at Q'emilin Park may be temporarily closed. For safety, we ask that the public obey posted signs, stay out of the river below the boater's safety cables and keep clear of designated work areas.