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Apr 29 , 2011
Jerry Collins pulls fishermen from icy waters; Quick action and good judgment save the day

Saturday, March 5 started out with a self-described “ordinary guy” taking advantage of an ordinary day of ice fishing. Jerry Collins, an inspector who has been with Avista for 15 years, probably had hopes of catching a few northern pike; instead, he ended up catching a whole lot more.

The story begins on Cave Lake near St. Maries, Idaho – a region that Collins is extremely familiar with. He was raised in the area and now calls it home. When you talk to Collins, you understand right away that if you are into ice fishing, he’s a wealth of information. For 55 years, in one way or another, Collins has spent time on the ice. With over half a century of experience, to say he’s familiar with the conditions on Cave Lake is an understatement.

Jerry Collins reunites with one of the fishermen he rescued from the lake.
Jerry Collins reunites with one of the fishermen
he rescued from the lake.
On a marginally cold day in March, after a couple of hours of fishing, Collin's knowledge of the lake and ice fishing experience was put to the test when he noticed two other anglers he had encountered earlier in the day struggling. One had fallen through the ice while cutting fishing holes with a chain saw. The man’s friend quickly sprang to action to help, but he too succumbed to the icy waters, when he fell through the ice “like a fencepost”, as Collins put it. 

Collins heard the commotion from a couple hundred feet away and had to make some quick decisions. The first was whether or not he should take the time to retrieve his sled with the rescue rope, which was 250 feet away in the opposite direction of the struggling anglers. He quickly realized that if he took the time to get it, there was a good chance the men wouldn’t make it. The water they were treading was 7-8 feet deep and freezing. The second decision he had to make was how to save them. Luckily for the two men, his quick action, good judgment and knowledge of the ice conditions saved their lives. Collins carefully approached the struggling men and reached out to the closest using the handle from the chainsaw they had been using to cut holes.

“The most frightening moment was when I noticed the second man struggling," Collins said. "The fear in his eye’s struck me with a force that commanded quick action. The next thing you know, I’m telling him to grab hold of his friend’s ankle and to hang on. I then pulled them both from the water and led them to a nearby shelter.”

Jerry Collins (second from left) was awarded a safety medallion for his heroic rescue of two ice anglers on March 5.
Jerry Collins (second from left) was awarded a
safety medallion for his heroic rescue of two
ice anglers on March 5. (Left to right):
Bob Weisbeck, Jerry Collins, Dennis Vermillion
and Tim Carlberg.
While the two men warmed-up and regained their composure, Collins retrieved their gear and then bid them farewell, leaving them with just his first name.

To hear Collins tell it, there was simply no other option than to help. “It’s just what you do,” Collins commented.

He doesn’t consider himself a hero, but instead, just an ordinary guy. We at Avista think Jerry Collins is anything but ordinary. His actions, along with his outstanding work ethic has gained our attention and admiration. With just a few weeks left before retirement, Collins will be ending his career at Avista as a hero. Even though he wasn’t on company time while coming to the aid of others, his ability to respond to a difficult situation while keeping a clear mind is something we value and honor.

For his heroics, Collins was recognized by Avista leaders at Business Review on Thursday, April 21. Avista Utilities President Dennis Vermillion, Director of Generation, Production and Substation Support Tim Carlberg, and Contract Construction Manager Bob Weisbeck presented Collins with a safety medallion as a token of appreciation for his good deeds and actions. Something tells me that this story is one fish tale that won’t easily be forgotten.

“It is a great honor to recognize Jerry for his outstanding example as citizen in our community," Vermillion said. "While we wish him well in his retirement, we are sad to see such a dedicated employee go.”
Published: 4/29/2011  11:02 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 28 , 2011
Avista introduces its first annual report on the company’s philanthropic activities
Post by Jessie Wuerst 
If you look and listen closely enough, you’ll see or hear our name pretty frequently in every community we serve. Not just on the service trucks working in your neighborhood or among those talking about energy bills in the grocery store. We’re here in your community doing what you do…supporting the local Chamber of Commerce, the parks programs, the colleges and universities, the after-school programs and many, many other non-profit organizations. We’ve quietly done this for more than 120 years, and we thought it was time to share some of the stories with you.

Today Avista launched our first annual report on the company’s philanthropic activities. The online report, “Avista Cares -- 2010 Philanthropy Report,” provides an overview of charitable donations made to non-profit organizations in our service territory as of Dec. 31, 2010. Funding for these contributions comes from company profits or endowed funds through the Avista Foundation and is not paid for by customers.

In 2010, we gave more than $2 million through donations and grants to non-profits in the communities we serve. These organizations are providing important services that are vital to the people who call those communities home. We believe that investing in philanthropic endeavors strengthens the fabric of communities, and enhances quality of life and community vitality.

The online report highlights Avista’s areas of focus for philanthropy in 2010: health and human services, education, youth development, environmental, arts and culture and community vitality.  In addition, the report includes lists of representative grants made in each area of focus in 2010 and information about giving by the company’s employees. 

We chose to put the report online to make it easier for you to access. It also is in keeping with our commitment to sustainable business practices – by not using paper, ink and energy to produce a printed report.

We hope you find the information of interest. Let us know what you think.
Published: 4/28/2011  3:23 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 22 , 2011

Post by Anna Scarlett

Avista Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Jaremko Nissan let us show this 2011 Nissan
Leaf to our employees.

Avista’s commitment to the environment is ingrained in our company’s culture. By protecting natural resources and being innovators in conservation and energy efficiency, we walk the talk of environmental stewardship. We do this year-round, but on Earth Day, Avista employees take a little extra time to reflect on our commitment to being wise stewards of the environment. Today marks the 41st anniversary of Earth Day – a day to appreciate and raise awareness about the Earth’s environment.

Last year in conjunction with our other Earth Day activities, Avista installed three electric vehicle charging stations for use in Spokane – one at Avista’s Mission Street campus, one at the Steam Plant in downtown Spokane, and one at Spokane’s City Hall. Yesterday, the City of Spokane announced that Avista and the city have partnered to upgrade the electric vehicle charging station at City Hall to a “Level 2” station that can charge electric and electric-hybrid vehicles more quickly. 
Avista has also upgraded our campus charging station, and we will soon upgrade the station at the Steam Plant. At 240 volts and 30 amps, the Level 2 station can completely charge a new Nissan Leaf in about four hours, just half the time of the earlier 110-volt, Level 1 station, which is equivalent to a typical household outlet. Today, we showed Avista employees how the new Nissan Leaf can be charged at the upgraded stations.

Consumers are increasingly looking for alternative modes of transportation to offset fuel costs, lessen our country’s dependence on oil, and reduce their carbon footprint. Electric-gas hybrid and all-electric vehicles are now available, and use is becoming more widespread. Attractive tax incentives and lower prices make converting to alternative transportation more affordable to the average consumer.

Pluggin in the 2011 Nissan Leaf
The Level 2 charging station
will charge an electric in
half the time as a Level 1
charging station.
Avista will continue to monitor the adoption of electric transportation to ensure we can keep providing the reliable energy that our customers have enjoyed for the past 120 years, while exploring new ways to incorporate renewable energy and keeping costs as low as possible.

Our website has tools and information for customers who are considering purchasing an electric vehicle, including installing a home charging system and the impact charging could have on their bill. Electric vehicle charging stations may one day be as common as corner gas stations are today, and we’re planning to be prepared for that.



Published: 4/22/2011  4:42 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 21 , 2011
Click to test your Energy IQ
Published: 4/21/2011  11:47 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 21 , 2011
Bunny video
Post by Dan Kolbet 
The folks over at killed a bunny for Easter. It was a chocolate bunny and it was for science – so it’s OK.

Ninety percent of the energy emitted by a standard incandescent light bulb goes towards the production of heat and not light. To demonstrate the heat-emitting, energy-wasting ways of incandescent light bulbs, two blinged-out chocolate bunnies in the above video are put to the test. Check out the video to see which one survives. I bet you can guess.

Editor’s Note: We at the Avista Blog do not recommend melting bunnies of any kind (they are too yummy), but we’ve made an exception for this little demo. But seriously, we don’t endorse any particular brand of lighting, but love the effort to show how LEDs are cool and efficient.

Try some LED (or even CFL) lighting when you can – it just might save your bunny.
Published: 4/21/2011  11:25 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 19 , 2011
Mock Natural Gas Emergency video
“This is a mock emergency. I repeat a mock emergency.”
Post by Dan Kolbet
Avista officials and local first responders discuss the scene.
Avista officials and local first responders discuss the scene.
The 911 call came in just after 8 a.m. A passerby noticed a backhoe in a ditch, a body on the ground nearby and a fire billowing from a possibly ruptured natural gas line. 
Quick quiz: what do you do?
That’s the question Avista and Stevens County first responders were faced with last week during a staged or mock natural gas emergency in Arden, Wash. I was lucky enough to be on-site during the exercise to film the events as an unofficial observer. Check out the two-minute video of what happened above.
The fire department arrived on scene first to contain the fire and rescue the backhoe operator. Avista was also alerted of the incident by 911 operators and responded to the scene, running through the steps employees would take in the event of a real emergency, such as shutting of gas to the ruptured line and making repairs.
Avista facilitates exercises like this one for the worst-case scenario. We want to be prepared to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the public. We work closely with local first responders so we are all prepared to take action when called upon.
Call 811 – the safe thing to do
More often than not, the cause of natural gas or electric line dig-ins is a third-party, which is why this scenario is so realistic. April is Safe Digging Month, but anytime is a good time to be safe about digging at your home or business. It’s not only the smart and safe thing to do to call 811 at least two working days before you plan to dig, it’s the law.
What’s a transmission pipeline?
Avista has around 125 miles of transmission pipeline in its system. This represents only about 1 percent of our total miles of pipeline. The pipeline used in this simulation is one of those few transmission lines. It’s about 74 miles long and runs between North Spokane and Kettle Falls. This particular line is 8 inches in diameter, but the designation is not based on size alone. A pipeline is designated transmission, when it exceeds 20 percent of its total yield strength (or capacity pressure.)
More from the Avista Blog
Sept. 16, 2010: California natural gas incident raises questions about pipelines, safety   
Published: 4/19/2011  9:59 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 11 , 2011
Read the newsletter
Check out our Spring 2011 issue of the Clark Fork Newsletter. In this issue, you’ll find the following stories:

• Go Fishing and Catch Cash!
• Spring Runoff Looking Good
• Meet the People Behind the Clark Fork Project
• Noxon Upgrades to Finish in 2012
• Boaters Play Safe

This newsletter goes out to stakeholders, customers, media and others interested in news about Avista’s Clark Fork Project. Our Clark Fork Project includes Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids hydroelectric dams – the newsletter highlights natural resource, operational and community activities associate with the project.
Published: 4/11/2011  4:48 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 11 , 2011
April is Safe Digging Month, according to the highest ranking officials in our area

Post by Dan Kolbet

The ground is no longer frozen, and in some parts of the Northwest, the grass is turning green again. Spring is fighting to immerge from a perpetual winter. But with the warmer weather comes the reminder that you’ve got a laundry list of yardwork projects to complete before the snow falls again. Those yard projects may just involve digging some holes in the ground – safely.

The governors of Idaho, Oregon and Washington have proclaimed April to be “Safe Digging Month.” Unfortunately it’s not a national holiday, and no, you can’t take off work to celebrate, but 811 is a free national number that you can call from any location.

Local media tweet about digging into a gas line.

I saw this tweet from KHQ earlier today. Seems fitting to go
with this post.

These official proclamations are a good reminder that pipes, cables and power lines can be buried dangerously close to the surface, and one dig with a shovel or backhoe could strike a natural gas or electric line. It’s not only the smart and safe thing to do to call 811 at least two working days before you plan to dig, it’s the law.

Click here to view a PDF scan of the state proclamations.

Just plan ahead a few days to ensure your safety and a the timely completion of your digging project.
Published: 4/11/2011  3:56 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post