Jun 01 , 2012
Customers continue benefiting from rebate and incentive programs to reduce energy use
Post by Anna Scarlett
Avista customers in Washington could see a decrease in their electric and natural gas rates beginning Aug. 1, if the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approves the company’s request to reduce surcharges that fund the company’s electric and natural gas energy efficiency programs.
The decreases are being requested to balance the amount of funding required for Avista to operate its energy efficiency programs, including the rebates and incentives paid to participating customers for installing energy saving measures. The requests are a part of Avista’s annual report to Washington regulators regarding the funding of the company’s energy efficiency programs.
If Avista’s requests are approved, electric customers in Washington would see an overall 1.9 percent decrease, or $1.47 a month for residential customers using an average of 989 kilowatt hours. Natural gas customers in Washington would see an overall 1.3 percent decrease, or a 79-cent per month reduction for residential customers using 68 therms. These tariff adjustments have no impact on company earnings.
Last year customers in Avista’s three-state service area received more than 43,000 rebates and incentives totaling almost $16 million. The energy savings are enough to power more than 5,300 Inland Northwest homes for a year and serve 2,300 homes with natural gas for a year, or almost 64,000 megawatt hours and 1.7 million therms of natural gas.
Of the rebates paid in 2011, more than 28,000 were to Washington customers totaling $11.4 million, more than 12,000 rebates to Idaho customers totaling $3.7 million, and Oregon customers received 2,300 rebates totaling $1.2 million. The most popular energy and cost-saving measures for residential customers included purchasing Energy Star ® appliances, installing high efficiency natural gas furnaces, and upgrading insulation. The average residential rebate for single family homes was $105.
Approximately $1.7 million was provided for weatherization for qualifying low-income customers in Washington and $595,000 for Idaho customers. An additional $40,000 was provided for conservation education for Idaho customers.
Information on energy efficiency rebates and incentives Avista offers for residential, commercial and low-income customers is available at www.everylittlebit.com, along with other energy-saving information.
Jun 01 , 2012
Receiving a rebate from Avista for the energy efficiency improvements you’ve made around your home just got a lot easier – no envelop, no stamps, no hassle.
Now you can submit your rebate information online at www.avistautilities.com/resrebates
, scan in your receipts and hit send. It’s faster so you receive your rebate sooner which everyone likes. If you’re thinking about improvements to your home, you can also find out more about the Avista energy efficiency rebates for which you may qualify at www.avistautilities.com/resrebates
In 2011 Avista customers received over 43,000 rebates and incentives totaling almost $16 million for energy efficiency improvements made to their homes and businesses. The energy savings are enough to power over 5,300 Inland Northwest homes for a year and serve 2,300 homes with natural gas for a year. The most popular energy and cost-savings measures for residential customers were purchasing Energy Star® appliances, installing high efficiency natural gas furnaces and upgrading insulation.
Check those energy efficiency projects off your to-do list and start saving time, money and energy.
May 30 , 2012
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers and employees that they want more information on how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community impact. We’re glad you asked!
That information and more is available in our fourth annual report on our performance, “Together We Will Build Shared Value,”
now online at avistautilities.com.
Our primary mission is to provide the energy you need for your life. The back story is all about what goes into providing that energy and how often this has additional benefits to the customers and communities we serve. That’s shared value.
In this year’s report, we tell many stories of how shared value is created throughout our business. For example, in the Utility Operations section we talk about how Avista must meet state-mandated energy savings targets. As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published online
We’ve made PDF files available of the entire report and four of its sections for your convenience in sharing the report with others.
Shared value is at the heart of what Avista does every day. We hope you’ll take the time to read this year’s report and give us your feedback
. We want to hear from you about how – together – we can continue to build shared value.
May 24 , 2012
One of the best strategies for pulling out of the longest, deepest recession of our time is to enable broad-based innovation and entrepreneurship. That’s why we’re partnering with Spokane Community College (SCC) to extend their unique entrepreneurship program
to other colleges throughout the region we serve. The Avista Business Entrepreneurship Network, in partnership with SCC and up to four other regional community colleges, will provide a continuum of education and ongoing support for budding entrepreneurs in Avista’s service territory. This network leverages the successful curriculum established by the Avista Center for Entrepreneurship at SCC in 2007. To date, three additional community colleges have agreed to participate in the network and create entrepreneurship programs modeled after SCC, including Rogue Community College (Medford, Ore.), North Idaho College (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), and Walla Walla Community College-Clarkston (Wash.).
The partnership created by the Avista Business Entrepreneurship Network will engage more people, leverage more resources, and accelerate quicker outcomes for greater impact in business development and job creation. Much like our investments to assure reliable energy delivery for our customers, this network is an investment in our region’s future prosperity.
The Avista Center for Entrepreneurship at each participating college will receive an investment of $100,000 over three years to support the initial implementation of the program. These funds come from profits that Avista is allowed to earn and are not included in customer rates. Each college foundation will pledge matching dollars to help ensure the long-term financial sustainability of their respective program. SCC faculty will facilitate the curriculum development process with involvement from members of the Business Entrepreneurship Network.
In addition, Avista will create a micro-enterprise loan fund for students who successfully complete the program and create new businesses. Each college will also participate in recruiting a cadre of mentors, advisors and professional services providers who will provide ongoing business support. The SCC program is graduating its fifth class this June. The first classes in each of the other Avista Centers for Entrepreneurship are expected to begin in the fall of 2013.
May 23 , 2012
Post By Brandi Smith
The 811 Call Before You Dig, Damage Prevention Bike made its way through Spokane on May 18 and 19 to help us spread the word about the importance of calling 811 before you dig. The custom chopper revved up a lot of attention as Avista, in partnership with One Call Concepts and the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council featured the bike at three important community events. The Spokane Shock game on Friday night (congrats Shock on a nice win!), the Lilac Festival Annual Car Show and the Torch Light Parade in downtown Spokane on Saturday night.
One Call Concepts, Inc. commissioned Paul Jr. Designs to build the 811 Bike to help promote awareness of the importance of preventing damage to underground facilities. In 2011, for every 1,000 utility locates performed in Avista’s service territory, 7.9 instances of utilities being dug into occurred. This is much higher than the national average, which is 3.7 per 1,000 utility locates. Avista’s goal is to reduce the amount of dig-ins to our underground lines by 10 percent. Help us continue to spread the word about the importance of calling 811 before you dig.
May 17 , 2012
|The photo on the left was taken last week at our Mission Campus, while the photo on the right was taken 25
years ago on Spokane's South Hill. A retiree saw the photo on the left on Avista's Facebook page and dug
into his photo archives for the image on the right he took 25 years ago. Cool connection.
Earlier this week Avista employee Scott Steele snapped the photo on the left of a bucket truck at the Mission Campus testing its boom. Our electric crews do this test each morning before heading out to a job site for safety. We posted the picture on the Avista Utilities Facebook
page that same day and received more than a dozen likes (thumbs up) on the picture in just a few hours.
The picture reminded Washington Water Power/Avista retiree Dick Waitt, a frequent Avista Facebook contributor, of a photograph he took about 25 years ago. That photo is on the right. Waitt took the picture as a WWP crew was making final adjustments to one of the line switches in the tap to the Glenrose Substation on Spokane's South Hill.
Pictures of bucket trucks (even these nice ones) are pretty common, but the story of sharing them through a social network is pretty new and, you have to admit, pretty cool too.
These sort of photographs tell a story that we just can’t say in words. It’s our employees working to serve you now and for more than 120 years.
May 15 , 2012
See the bike at the Spokane Shock game, Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade and Cruzin’ the Falls Car Show
Avista and the Inland Empire Utility Coordinating Council (IEUCC) have teamed up to bring the 811 Damage Prevention Bike to Spokane at no cost to promote the message of damage prevention and the importance of calling 811 for underground utility locates before starting any project that involves digging.
Your first chance to see the bike in person will be on the concourse at the Spokane Shock game Friday. The game against the Philadelphia Soul begins at 8 p.m. The bike will also be at the Cruzin the Falls Car Show and in the Spokane Lilac Festival Torchlight Parade Saturday.
Created by Paul Jr. Designs for One Call Concepts, the construction of the 811 bike was featured on the popular “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior” reality television show on the Discovery Channel.
Bringing the 811 Damage Prevention Bike to Spokane for high-profile community events is one way that Avista can share the importance of calling 811 for underground utility locates two days before starting any project that involves digging. Decreasing dig-ins on Avista’s natural gas system by 10 percent to increase public safety and reduce company costs is a company goal for 2012. In 2011, there were 7.9 dig-ins for every 1,000 locates, compared to the national average of 3.7.
Helmet contest on Avista’s Facebook page
Avista is offering a chance for one lucky person, biker or not, to win and design his or her own custom painted motorcycle helmet with the help of Spokane artist George Roybal. To enter the contest go to www.facebook.com/avistautilties
“Like” our page and fill out the entry form before May 31.
May 11 , 2012
Team sorts, reuses and recycles materials
Nearly every time an Avista crew goes into the field to fix a power line or natural gas pipeline, there are materials left over from the job. That material might not be usable again or it could just be outdated – but more than likely it’s not trash.
That’s where Avista’s Investment Recovery team steps in. When our crews return from the field, they drop off their materials for sorting. Investment Recovery decides what can be reused, recycled or salvaged. In 2011 alone, Avista recycled nearly two million pounds of material and metals including items like aluminum, copper and iron. That’s a whole lot of materials that don’t end up in landfills.
“One of the main reasons Investment Recovery exists is be good stewards of the environment,” said April Spacek, Manager of Materials Management. “It’s well worth it to Avista to put a strong effort in this area to help return value to the business and avoid generating large volumes of trash.”
Once material is returned, it’s sorted by employees from ARC of Spokane who take great pride in their work. It’s a win-win for environmental stewardship, while providing jobs for developmentally disabled members of our community.
Each morning the Investment Recovery warehouse is buzzing with a tremendous amount of activity as workers breakdown materials with hammers, screwdrivers, vises and other implements.
The reusable material is inspected or repaired, then returned to the Avista warehouse for the next job. Recycled materials are packaged and picked up by a local recycling outfit.
“Doing our part for the environment is just the right thing to do, ” said Investment Recovery Coordinator Barry Pasicznyk. “We’ve been doing this work at Avista for quite some time now and it’s a great thing.”
Take a look at the video above to see the sights and sounds of Investment Recovery.
May 11 , 2012
Spokane River and Clark Fork River work targets fish survival, habitat and doing the right thing
If you’ve ever dipped a fishing rod into any of our local lakes or rivers you’re already aware of the great natural resources we enjoy in the Northwest. Because Avista operates hydroelectric facilities on the Clark Fork and Spokane rivers, we’ve made a commitment to the environment as part of our daily operations throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
Two great examples of Avista’s commitment to environmental stewardship are reducing invasive lake trout in Lake Pend Oreille and studying rainbow trout spawning on the Spokane River. These projects were featured in a 2010 “Safekeeping” segment of the Columbia Country television program which aired on Fox stations.
Clark Fork River
The Clark Fork Project segment features an ongoing collaborative project on Lake Pend Oreille to reduce the population of invasive lake trout. Lake Pend Oreille was once a world-class fishery for rainbow trout, bull trout and kokanee. In recent years, the lake has been taken over by lake trout (also called mackinaw), which do not coexist well with native bull trout, and which prey on kokanee, depleting the food sources for rainbow and bull trout. This project offers angler incentives and brings in commercial netters to “fish out” the invasive lake trout. Since this program’s inception more than 139,000 lake trout have been removed from the lake.
Avista helps fund the Lake Pend Oreille project through our Clark Fork Project license, which includes Noxon Rapids Dam in Montana and Cabinet Gorge Dam in northern Idaho.
The Spokane segment features a rainbow trout spawning study on the Spokane River, part of our 50-year operating license for the five hydroelectric developments that make up Avista’s Spokane River Project. The spawning study is part of a 10-year collaboration with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to better understand the relationship between river flow and the rainbow trout population and their spawning habitat from Monroe Street Dam downstream to Nine Mile Dam.
In each of the last two years, in partnership with WDFW, we’ve captured and tagged more than 800 rainbow trout in the river below the Monroe Street Dam downstream to the Nine Mile Reservoir. This part of the 10-year study is to understand how many trout are in the Spokane River and the habitat they use. We will capture and tag rainbow trout again this October.
A similar project has been in effect for several years in the Upper Spokane River, and we hope this project will help us better understand how managing river flows affects water levels in Lake Coeur d’Alene and habitat for rainbow trout downstream. By doing so, we hope to ultimately encourage growth of the rainbow trout population in the Spokane River.
Both of these projects show how Avista works with others to care for the natural resources affected by our projects. They are great examples of how we make our commitment to environment part of our daily operations throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
May 11 , 2012
Avista’s work on the Spokane River aesthetic flows project was completed in October of 2011. The project took place in the river in downtown Spokane and received a lot of attention from curious onlookers last summer.
The reason behind the project wasn’t just about looks, as the name suggests. While the overall goal was to create a cascading waterfall effect through the channels of the Spokane River that run north and south of Canada Island, the work was related to the aesthetic spills requirement of our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license.
In 2009, Avista was issued a new 50-year license by FERC to operate our five hydroelectric dams on the Spokane River (Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake). The purpose of the aesthetic flows project was to return the river’s channels to a more natural state, the way they were before early developers in Spokane cut into the bedrock to divert water during dry times.
Weirs, which are concrete structures, were installed in the riverbed to divert water. Before construction on the project began, Avista brought together several stakeholder groups, including the Washington Department of Ecology, The Sierra Club, and others, to take part in a pilot test for the project using sandbags as temporary weirs to divert the water. The feedback we received helped us determine the placement for the permanent weirs.
Land Expressions LLC, was awarded the contact and did an outstanding job constructing the weirs to match the natural basalt bedrock as much as possible, including consideration for the existing terrain’s texture and color.
In addition to providing aesthetic attributes, the project will accommodate fish passage at various water flow levels that are determined by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Ecology. During the project, fish biologists and contractors were on site, relocating fish safely downstream due to the river flow being temporarily stopped while the weirs are constructed.
Now that the project is complete, water flows more evenly throughout the two channels of the river and produces a more pleasing flow of water through Riverfront Park. This time of year the work isn’t too noticeable because flows are so high, but come summer time, take a stroll through Riverfront Park and check out the river’s new look.