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Updates from Avista

Welcome to our E-Newsletter

Message from Scott: Updating you on recent Avista news

I recently enjoyed a day at Manito Park with my wife Liz and our grandson. It’s nice to be outside in the warmer weather—our communities really seem to come alive this time of year, don’t they? As I watched my grandson play, I thought about all the generations of people who have raised their families throughout this region. It’s amazing to think that Avista has been part of the fabric of these communities for nearly 125 years. Our region has grown, and continues to grow so much. The work you do as business and community leaders is vital to that growth. And it’s part of my job to ensure we are planning for the future—so that the next generation has access to affordable, reliable energy. It really is remarkable to think how long we've been serving this area and many of you, as well.

I personally wanted to take a minute to thank you for your business. Your role in our organization is clearly essential, and we appreciate all you do for our local economies. I know I can say I've worked with many of you over the years, and I appreciate all the projects we've accomplished together. As a company, we continue to look for ways to provide more value to the communities we serve—from developing Smart Grid technology or bringing wind power to our region—to stocking fish or enhancing recreation along our rivers, and encouraging our employees to give back by volunteering their time and talent to countless community organizations. At Avista, we are always looking for ways to be involved.

And we'd like to stay better connected with you, providing information about the work we do, energy topics important to the work you do, customer highlights and more. Below you will find a collection of short articles outlining current updates from Avista. We hope you will find these pieces informative and helpful to you as you conduct business in and lead our communities. We'll be sending out this e-newsletter every other month and welcome your feedback.

Scott Morris, CEO

Spokane Public Schools Continues to Save

Spokane Public Schools (SPS) gets an A+ in energy savings for efficiency improvements made to district schools and facilities in 2012. The improvements qualified for $300,000 in energy efficiency rebates and incentives from Avista and are expected to save SPS approximately $125,000 annually in energy costs. 
Since 2005, the school district has received $2.3 million in energy efficiency incentives on over 200 energy efficiency projects. Through a continued commitment to saving energy, SPS has saved over $800,000 in annual energy costs. That’s enough energy to power over 700 homes for a year and provide natural gas to 375 homes. In an environment of continued budget cuts, these savings represent a great value to the district and to our community. 
Projects completed in 2012 included new energy efficient lighting at 19 elementary schools, ENERGY STAR appliances, modernizations at three elementary schools and construction of a new Westview Elementary School. Combined, these particular projects are expected to annually save enough energy to power 100 homes for a year and provide natural gas to 60 homes. That’s over 1.2 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) and more than 53,000 therms saved.
“Energy efficiency is a sustainable way for school districts to manage their costs while creating a more comfortable learning environment for students,” said Ann Carey, Avista’s multi-site account executive. “Spokane Public Schools has made a strong and sustained commitment to energy efficiency, and we look forward to helping them continue that focus in the future.”
Like SPS, residential, commercial and industrial customers can take advantage of energy efficiency rebates and incentives we offer as a way to help reduce energy use and resulting costs. The programs are available because generally it costs less to help customers reduce their usage through energy efficiency programs than to acquire additional, more costly energy resources.
“Reducing energy use is a great example to set for our future generations. By upgrading our facilities, we are creating better learning environments for our students and teaching them to be stewards of energy efficiency. We are grateful to Avista for providing opportunities that allow the school district to save energy, as well as taxpayer dollars,” said Spokane Public Schools Associate Superintendent Dr. Mark Anderson.
Learn more about energy efficiency programs and other energy management tools for your home and your business.

Post Falls Dam project completed

In an effort to modernize our system and increase efficiency, work was recently completed at the Post Falls Dam. The project began in July 2012 to replace equipment that was more than 100 years old—both the original lifting hoists and the timber intake gates. New lifting hoists and steel gates were installed at the Middle Channel Dam. This work also enhanced safety and increased reliability. The Post Falls Dam currently generates 18 MW of energy.

Ryan Bean, mechanical engineer and Avista’s Project Manager, said “Working on old structures always comes with unique challenges, and from fluctuating forebay levels due to the annual Coeur d’Alene Lake drawdown, to managing water leaking into the construction work area, this project was no exception.” One element that was particularly challenging was staggering construction while operating the powerhouse, as work could only be done on two gates at a time. To reduce customer impacts and maintain the recreational opportunities upstream of the dam, our operators and crews continually juggled turbines to pass incoming river flows in order to avoid using the spillways.

Learn more about this and other Spokane River projects.

Community organizations receive grants

2012 giving from Avista Foundation and Avista Corp. totaled more than $1.6 million.
Avista employees volunteer MORE THAN 50,000 hours annually.

Local non-profit support organizations are vital to the communities they serve. They are often a much needed safety net to some of the area’s most vulnerable populations. These agencies, combined with educational initiatives and economic prosperity and cultural vitality projects, are the focus of the Avista Foundation.

We’ve been involved in area communities for a long time, and one of the more focused ways we can participate is through our foundation. The Avista Foundation is a community investment program of Avista Utilities, providing 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.

In total the foundation’s total giving in 2012 was $477,839. Together with donations made by Avista Corp., 2012 giving to organizations in the company’s service territory totaled more than $1.6 million, up from $1.4 million in 2011. Funding for these donations comes from foundation funds and company profits. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.

And the spirit of volunteerism is highly valued as well. Avista employees gave nearly 50,000 hours of volunteer service to community organizations in their hometowns. One of our largest volunteer efforts last year was with the Salvation Army’s annual “Backpack for Kids” program. Partnering alongside community volunteers, more than 120 employees helped give 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.”

Learn more about the Avista Foundation, including the key focus areas for funding.

Long Lake recreation improvements

Our Spokane River recreation plan includes projects that enhance public recreation opportunities near and adjacent to our hydroelectric facilities. One such project we recently completed included the renovation of the picnic area located immediately downstream of Long Lake Dam. There we improved the parking areas, installed new fencing and a playground surface to make it safer for children, improved the kitchen shelter, installed new directional and interpretive signs, and constructed a put-in site for canoes and kayaks. Our goal was to make the facility safer and more enjoyable for everyone, including folks with disabilities.

Learn more about Spokane River projects.


High school students get creative, earn grants

Creativity and energy efficiency have came together to earn technology grants for two area high schools thanks to short videos produced by student teams in our annual Every Little Bit Video Contest.

High school students were given the opportunity to create short videos demonstrating the importance of energy efficiency practices and its benefit for the environment.  More than 50 videos were submitted for judging, with students also promoting online voting for their video.

The winners of the Grand Prize are from Pullman High School in Pullman. The “Watts & Hertz” video earned a $2,500 technology grant for their school. In addition, each team member received an Apple iPad 3 and a tour of COMRADE Studios in Spokane with the opportunity to help prepare their video for television.

The Viewer’s Choice award was “Be Bolt”, a video created by Ferris High School students. Each received an Apple iPod Nano with their school receiving a $1,500 technology grant.

Honorable Mention award winners are from Freeman High School, Cheney High School, and Spokane Valley High. View the top five videos.

“These talented students are energy users, and as future customers, they’ll make important choices about the use of earth’s resources,” said Patrick Lynch, Avista's director of energy solutions. "By engaging them in the importance of using energy wisely today, they’ll be better stewards tomorrow.”

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.

“With the money we have received from Avista through the Every Little Bit Video Contest, we have purchased video cameras that have helped us transition from tape-based recording to flash media recording. The results in quality and efficiency have been amazing and have helped advance our school’s multi-media program a great deal,” said Doug Winchell, Pullman High School teacher and instructor for the Multimedia Class. “We will continue to do more of the same with this year’s award. The iPads are a great incentive for kids to work on this project.”

The Every Little Bit Video Contest is part of our energy efficiency education outreach which includes Wattson, the energy efficiency watchdog for K-3 students, with supporting materials for parents and teachers.