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Dec 01 , 2010
Rates video - click to play
We’ve been writing about rates all year
Post by Dan Kolbet
The conclusion of Avista’s General Rate cases in Washington begins today as new rates for electricity and natural gas become effective.
The rate cases were originally filed way back in March. An all-party settlement was reached in August that was approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission in November.
General rate cases can take up to 11 months to come to a resolution in Washington, 7 months in Idaho and 10 months in Oregon. All year we updated this blog when key events occurred in the rate-adjustment process. Here’s a few posts to check out regarding rates activities in Washington, Idaho and Oregon this year.
Published: 12/1/2010  12:06 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 01 , 2010
Winter is here
Winter is here in the Northwest. And somewhere inside this picture is a utility pole and power line.
Yep, #WinterisHereNW.
Follow Jessie on Twitter: @AvistaCares

Last year at this time, we did a series on Twitter using the hashtag #WinterCountDown to get our followers ready for the cold weather and holidays ahead. This year, the cold weather beat us and the snow just keeps piling up. So we’re not counting down to winter this year; we’re going to plow right through it from now to December 31. So begins #WinterisHereNW.

Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21, but Mother Nature and La Nina have other plans for us here in the Northwest. So let’s get the upper hand early on and at least get on a level playing field. This means knowing where the energy hogs are in your home and managing their energy consumption. We can help you identify these little monsters. It also means being aware of using extra energy during the busy holidays – with more people at home, more cooking and entertaining going on, and for many of us, more lights both inside and out. We have some tips to help you save energy and still enjoy the season.

This year our elderly and infirm neighbors and family members will need assistance more than ever – shoveling walkways and keeping meters and vents cleared of snow. And some folks may need help paying their energy bills this winter – we have assistance tips there, too.

We’ll be tweeting about all of this and more in the coming weeks. Come join our journey this month. And tell us if there are specific topics you’d like to know more about. We’ll do our best to help you do your best this winter.
More info on Twitter
To follow the #WinterisHereNW series, watch for the hashtag being used by Avista's three Twitter accounts. See Avista’s live Twitter feeds, @AvistaUtilities, AvistaCares and @Dan_at_Avista
Published: 12/1/2010  10:40 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 30 , 2010
Customer shares her experience with Avista through e-mail and photos
Post by Dan Kolbet

Crew slideshow
Often times we get e-mails from customers expressing thanks for the work our employees do. We try to share them in our internal communications newsletters and employee meetings – but this note and set of photos goes a little above and beyond what we typically receive and I think it’s worth sharing here on the Avista Blog. I really appreciate the customer who sent these in. Enjoy.

"I just wanted Avista to know what great service we have here in St. Maries. At around 3:30 a.m. this Sunday morning (Oct. 24), someone crashed into the electrical pole across the street from our home, causing a power outage. This has happened before, in and around town, and our service has always been on very quickly. But this time I was able to see why. What a well-oiled crew you have! Even during the dark, your crew assessed the problem with the help of our police dept., and secured the street for safe passage.

At first light the work crew was out here and began work. I was very impressed at the way they just got in there and began work. Definitely a crew that was very experienced and knowledgeable. Of course they are well trained, but these guys (in the pouring rain almost the entire time) never missed a beat.

I think all who work outside on a regular basis for our needs, deserve our thanks more often than they hear. It was a pleasure to watch them, and I now know what it takes to replace those huge poles and lines!

I wish my young grandchildren could have been here to see how well they all worked together in addition to the very interesting lesson of what it takes to replace an electrical pole.

I am a picture taker, and I hope you enjoy seeing your hard-working crew in action. Our power was on so fast, my husband didn't have to drag out the generator ... it was on before daylight! Thanks again for the fast service, and all the work you do."

-Linda, North Idaho
If you have photos or stories to tell about work Avista has done in your area, e-mail the Blog and let us know.
Published: 11/30/2010  10:10 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 29 , 2010
Click here to get a Housewarming Gift Certificate
Post by Dan Kolbet
If you're looking for a unique gift that will definitely get used, look no further than an Avista Housewarming Gift Certificate. Gift certificates are available in any denomination to help pay Avista Utilities energy bills.
You may have seen or heard promotions for Housewarming Gift Certificates on local radio stations and websites. We really want customers to take advantage of this service as a gift this winter.
With no expiration date, these gift certificates can be redeemed by mailing them to Avista or dropping them in an official Avista payment drop box with a bill payment stub. To purchase a gift certificate please complete the order form and mail a check or money order payable to Avista Utilities.
Avista Utilities
P.O.BOX 3727 MSC 34 H
Spokane, WA 99220-3727
There are no administration or processing fees of any kind associated with the gift certificates. Your total gift certificate amount goes directly to your recipient. Processing time may take up to five business days.
Published: 11/29/2010  11:18 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 29 , 2010
Meter video
Post by Dan Kolbet

Over the last few weeks as snow dumped on the Inland Northwest, I’ve been urging customers to clear a path to their meters. Time to walk the talk. On Saturday morning I tweeted the above video of yours truly clearing a path to my utility meters. We recieved about 6 inches of new snow at my house that morning, on top of the 4-6 inches we had from earlier in the week.

I have the nifty advantage of a snow-blower to get the job done, but the path doesn’t have to be perfect. Just enough room to get someone in front of it without having to move mountains. And speaking of mountains – for heaven’s sake, don’t pile your snow on top of it! This might happen on accident too, so be aware. When today’s snow turns into tomorrow’s icy slush, it just might slide off your roof and onto you meters. So keep a look out.

So if you want to see me doing some manual labor, click on the video above.
Published: 11/29/2010  11:00 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 23 , 2010
Post and video by Dan Kolbet
We created this Infrastructure video, shown below, last March when we filed for rate adjustments in our General Rate cases in Washington and Idaho. Now that both cases have come to their respective conclusions, this video serves as a good reminder of what you're paying for with the adjusted rates.  
See more: Washington rate adjustments, Idaho rate adjustments
Infrastructure video
Published: 11/23/2010  1:14 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 23 , 2010
Post and video by Dan Kolbet
We created this Power Supply video, shown below, last March when we filed for rate adjustments in our General Rate cases in Washington and Idaho. Now that both cases have come to their respective conclusions, this video serves as a good reminder of what you're paying for with the adjusted rates.  
See more: Washington rate adjustments, Idaho rate adjustments
Power Supply video
Published: 11/23/2010  9:34 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 22 , 2010
Shovel that path!
1st grade artwork
Post by Dan Kolbet

This morning was a big day around my house. For one, it was the first big snowfall of the year so all I had to do to wake up my daughters is yell “SNOW!” from the hallway and they just came running. The second reason it was significant is that I attended my first grader’s parent/teacher conference with my wife.

Now, I don’t care what anyone tells you – parent/teacher conferences are as much about evaluating your parenting skills as it is about how well your kid is really doing in the classroom. No worries – my daughter is doing great (little sigh of relief!)

Her teacher said something that really stuck with me. The skills she’s learning today builds a foundation for future learning. If she doesn’t get it the first time around – it will be a lot harder to catch up later.

It occurred to me as a walked through 3 inches of snow in the school parking lot that what my daughter’s teacher said would be true of shoveling a path to your utility meter too. If you don’t shovel it when it first snows – it’s going to be really hard to catch up the next time it snows . . . and again and again. Ice could build up or snow could become compact and stay there all winter long.

So, with the really cold weather hitting Eastern Washington and North Idaho today, this snow we’ve got isn’t going to go anywhere soon. Clear a path to your meter today, so it’ll be easier tomorrow. 

Why do we clear a path?
Safety is the number one reason. In case of an emergency, Avista or fire/rescue personnel can reach your meter to turn off gas flow, etc. Also if it’s buried in snow, you’re more likely to whack it with your shovel or snow blower  (or car) when the snow really piles up this winter. It’s also a safety concern for our Avista meter readers who need to get close to your meter to read it. While they can and do read some meters from a distance, it’s a heck of a lot easier to do it when there isn’t a North Pole-sized mountain in front of it.

So, grab a shovel and clear that path today.
Published: 11/22/2010  12:03 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 22 , 2010
News release from Nov. 19, 2010
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves all-party settlement agreement

Avista received approval today from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) on the all-party settlement agreement, concluding the company’s electric and natural gas rate request in Washington. New customer rates will be effective Dec. 1, 2010. Avista made the requests to the WUTC on March 23, 2010 followed by an all-party settlement agreement on Aug. 25, 2010.

“Avista is committed to providing our customers with the safe, reliable energy they need at a fair price,” said Avista Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Scott L. Morris. “We are pleased the Commission recognized the need for our retail rates to reflect the increased costs necessary to operate and maintain our energy delivery system.”

The new prices reflect an overall electric increase of 7.2 percent in billed rates and a natural gas increase of 3.2 percent in billed rates. These rates are designed to increase annual electric revenues by $29.5 million and natural gas annual revenues by $4.6 million. The approved overall rate of return is 7.91 percent with a common equity ratio of 46.5 percent and a 10.2 percent return on equity.

When the new prices become effective, a residential customer will see an increase of $5.62, or 7.8 percent, for each 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity used per month. A residential natural gas customer will see an increase of $2.17, or 3.6 percent, for each 69 therms used per month.  Avista serves more than 234,000 electric and nearly 147,000 natural gas customers in Washington.

Funding for Avista’s Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance Program (LIRAP), which provides energy assistance for qualifying customers, will increase by 7.4 percent or $0.71 a month for electric customers and 2.9 percent or $0.62 a month for natural gas customers. With this increase, the annual funding level for electric low-income customers will be approximately $3.3 million and approximately $1.7 million for natural gas customers.

The approval will also allow Avista to increase funding for its low-income weatherization program by $500,000 making a total of $2 million in assistance available to help qualifying customers improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Information on energy assistance programs and energy efficiency rebates and incentives for customers is available by clicking on these links.

Published: 11/22/2010  10:55 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 17 , 2010
Potlatch video
Post & Video by Dan Kolbet

Yesterday I met up with several Avista electric line crews restoring power near Potlatch, Idaho. This video shows the clean up and restoration effort along Hwy 95. The audio quality is really pretty poor, sorry about that – but it shows just how windy it was out there even hours after the main storm had passed. At one point my camera even blew over – go figure.

When I left the site last night, new steel poles had been delivered and were being erected. Avista estimates that power should be restored to the majority of customers in the area by this evening, but smaller pockets of customers may remain without power. Avista crews will continue to work until all customers have been returned to service. Customers are urged to contact Avista late this evening at 1(800)227-9187 if their power has not been restored, as there may be damage to nearby power lines, which has yet to be reported.

Shelter opened in Potlatch for residents without power
The City of Potlatch, Idaho has opened a warming shelter in the city for area residents who remain without power from Monday night’s wind storm. The shelter is located at Eastern Star’s Rebekah Hall on Pine Street in Potlatch. Avista is partnering with the City of Potlatch and Latah County Disaster Services to coordinate this effort.

The shelter is heated and will offer food and beverages to those in need. The shelter opened early Wednesday morning and is tentatively scheduled to remain open until at least 8 p.m. tonight. For more information about the shelter, please contact Sandy Rollins, Latah County Disaster Services at (208)883-2265 or (509)330-0676.
Published: 11/17/2010  2:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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