Jun 16 , 2011
Click to enlarge
Post by Brandi Smith 

It’s time to get your clubs ready and hit the links. Avista’s third annual Charity Golf Scramble will be held on Saturday, August 20, 2011 at the Rivers Bend Golf Course in Thompson Falls, Mont.

The four-person scramble tournament will benefit Sanders County senior citizens. The Avista Charity Golf Tournament was created in 2009 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Clark Fork Management Committee and the 50-year anniversary of the Noxon Rapids Hydroelectric Dam. Avista has sponsored the charity golf tournament annually to benefit a local organization. Past beneficiaries include Sanders County Community Housing and the Cancer Network of Sanders County.

Registrations are now being taken for men’s, women’s, and coed teams. The cost is $50 per player and includes 18 holes of golf, lunch provided by the Senior Citizens of Sanders County, the chance to win great team, pin and door prizes as well as the opportunity to participate in a silent auction. Rehbein Ford has once again graciously offered a brand new vehicle as the hole-in-one prize. Additionally, top performing teams in men’s, women’s and coed divisions will win up to $500.

If you would like to attend this fun event to benefit a great cause, please register your team by contacting Avista’s Natural Resource office at (406) 847-1285 by August 1. We hope to see you on the links.
Published: 6/16/2011  10:53 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 27 , 2011

Noxon Rapids Dam

 
Post by Brandi Smith

One safe group!
The group was officially recognized for their milestone
at one of their routine monthly safety meetings.
Pride in their work and respect for one another is the perfect description of the crew of 13 employees at Noxon Rapids Dam who have gone 7,300 days without a lost-time accident. That’s 20 years and counting--an impressive feat considering the amount of work that has been taking place over the last few years to upgrade the 51-year-old structure as well as the amount of contract employees who rotate through the facility. So far, they have completed three out of four unit upgrades without a recordable accident or injury.

Noxon Unit 3 removal
“Safety at Noxon is a mind-set and a group effort above all else,” said Chief Operator Pat Kelly who will be retiring after 30 years of service with Avista this June. He attributes their successful safety record to the good old adage that anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time. The close knit group talks about safety on a daily basis, evaluating hazards and discussing near misses.

“This record is secondary to the people who work here and go home safe and sound at the end of the day,” said Kelly. “We watch out for one another and pay close attention to safety procedures. If we identify a source or area for potential injury, we talk about it and make it safe.”

In addition to generating an excellent safety culture, Noxon Rapids Dam is widely known throughout Avista as our workhorse with a generating capacity of 562.4 Megawatts.
Published: 5/27/2011  3:56 PM | 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

Mar 02 , 2011
Post by Brandi Smith

Noxon turbine runner and shaft.
This is a picture of the upgraded turbine runner and shaft
prior to installation. The turbine runner (water wheel) is 18
feet in diameter and weighs 130,000 pounds.
Generator rotor.
This picture shows the generator rotor being lowered into unit
3. It is 34 feet in diameter and weighs 650,000 pounds.
Project management is like juggling three balls at once - time, cost, and quality. The four-year, $45 million project to upgrade four generating units at Noxon Rapids Dam, Avista’s largest hydro facility, started in July of 2008. The improvements include upgrading the generator, installing higher capacity transformers and replacing the original turbine runners in all four units.

Sounds simple enough right? Well not so much.

Unfortunately, our local hardware stores don’t carry parts for turbine runners and generator rotors, so as you can imagine, this is no small deal. In fact, many of the parts that need to be replaced or refurbished have to be ordered a year in advance and are shipped from all over North America.

Each turbine runner weighs 130,000 pounds and the generator rotor weighs 650,000 pounds which combined is the equivalent of 47 elephants. Dealing with such significant weights and sizes makes the project more complex. Additionally, all of these upgrades are taking place in the midst of routine dam operations and maintenance. Talk about a juggling act.

To date, the Noxon team has finished upgrading two units and is nearly finished with the third, which will start seeing action this spring. The crew will begin work on the final unit this summer to complete the project by April of next year.

When finished, the improved turbine runners will generate more power using the same amount of water. Pretty cool, right? Approximately 30 megawatts will be added to the plant’s current maximum capacity (556.6 MW) and the incremental energy generated will meet some of the renewable energy portfolio standards as well. It’s a win-win.
The Noxon Rapids Dam is located on the Clark Fork River in Montana and provides Avista customers in Washington and Idaho with clean, renewable hydroelectric power.

Watch this video from 2009 of Noxon’s Unit 3 being removed from the bowels of the dam. Avista Blog: Noxon Rapids Dam upgrades underway, massive Unit 3 turbine removed.
Published: 3/2/2011  2:56 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 10 , 2010
Post compiled from information provided by Patrick Maher

Temp
Climate Prediction Center: January, February, March 2011
Temperature Projections
Precip
Climate Prediction Center: January, February, March 2011
Precipitation Projections
It’s a long way from the Inland Northwest to the equator in the Pacific Ocean, but what’s happening there will probably have an impact on the region this winter.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is projecting that the Pacific Northwest will have a colder and wetter than normal winter thanks to La Niña, which is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. The cooler water temperatures ultimately impact weather around the world and often lead to extreme weather events. Last winter was an El Niño year – the opposite weather pattern of La Niña - with higher than normal temperatures and little snow.

If the La Niña predictions hold true, it could again mean increased mountain snow in the Pacific Northwest and in western Montana. We know that’s good news for skiers, but what could it mean for Avista?

Above average snow in western Montana could mean increased hydro generation at our Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids facilities depending upon actual snow fall amounts in the mountains and how the spring snow melt unfolds. The more gradual the snow melt, the more Avista can make use of the water in the rivers. The same applies to our six Spokane River hydro projects. About 60 percent of our total hydro generation comes from the Clark Fork basin with 23.5 percent coming from the Spokane River basin.

However, you never know what Mother Nature is going to do. According to the National Weather Service, not every La Niña is the same with a wide range of possible snowfall outcomes. For example, in Spokane the La Niña winters of 1949/1950, 1955/1956, 1974/1975, 2007/2008, and 2008/2009 resulted in over 80 inches of snowfall for the winter season. However, only 30-32 inches of snow was observed in the La Niña winters of 1967/1968, and 1970/1971. So while above average snowfall is more likely for a La Niña winter, it’s not a guarantee. But, it may be a good bet to have your snow blower gassed up and ready to go this winter, just in case.

Regardless of what this winter brings, we’ll have enough electricity and natural gas to safely and reliably meet the energy needs of our customers and provide them with first-class customer service.
 
More info
Avista obtains weather data from a number of sources such as the National Weather Service, Northwest River Forecast Center, DTN Weather and the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Avista uses long-term charts like the ones above from the Climate Prediction Center as information; however, short-term weather forecasts are one of the tools that are used to help determine the amount of electricity and natural gas that Avista may need to purchase in the daily or spot market to meet customer demand.

Forward looking statement
This article contains forward-looking statements regarding the company’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the article and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2009, and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010.
Published: 11/10/2010  10:05 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 20 , 2010
Clark Fork Newsletter
Post by Anna Scarlett

Avista recently published the second issue of our Clark Fork Newsletter, which 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. Articles in this issue include:

• New Transformers Go PCB-Free
• EWM: Invasive Species Wrap Up
• Clark Fork Faces: Mike Miller
• Management Committee Tours
• Resource Projects
• Hunters – Play Safe!
 
More information
Avista Blog, July 6, 2010: Clark Fork Project Newsletter launched
 
Published: 10/20/2010  4:31 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 06 , 2010
Clark Fork Quarterly Newsletter
First edition of the Clark Fork Project Newsletter.
Post by Anna Scarlett

Avista’s two hydroelectric dams on the Clark Fork River, Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids, generate more than 80 percent of the clean, renewable hydropower that we generate for our customers throughout Idaho and Washington. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the first power generated at Noxon Rapids, our largest hydro facility and, arguably, the most impressive.

In addition to the daily work of operating of these impressive plants, more than 40 employees work with dozens of stakeholders to protect the natural resources around them, and help contribute to the communities and the economy of northern Idaho and Montana through their efforts.

Want to know more? We’ve launched a quarterly newsletter highlighting our operations and environmental activities and spotlighting employees and individuals doing this important daily work. Each season, we plan to distribute the newsletter stakeholders, Avista employees, customers and others who sign up for it. Take a look here.
 

  
Published: 7/6/2010  8:34 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 10 , 2010

A regional sports fishing television show will highlight Avista’s work in protecting natural resources associated with our Clark Fork and Spokane hydroelectric projects this spring and summer.

Columbia Country,” which airs Sunday afternoons on Fox stations throughout the northwest, is featuring two Avista projects as part of its “Safekeeping” segments. “Safekeeping” is a sponsored segment that highlights environmental activities, often focusing on efforts to protect and enhance fish habitat.

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.

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 new rainbow trout spawning study on the Spokane River, part of our new 50-year operating license for the five hydroelectric developments that make up Avista’s Spokane River Project. The spawning study is part of a ten-year collaboration with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 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.

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.

“Columbia Country” airs at 4 p.m. on Sunday on Spokane’s FOX-TV. (For other stations, check local listings). Or, you can see the segments here.
Published: 3/10/2010  2:51 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 30 , 2009
Noxon video
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Oftentimes a hydro dam looks like a block of earth and cement, just holding back water. Not much happening, right? Well, peel back the layers and you’ll find an incredibly high-tech operation that is constantly in motion. 

As Avista’s largest single generation facility, the Noxon Rapids Dam in Montana is an impressive structure that has been in operation more than 50 years. But just like your house, after 50 years, it’s due for some upgrades.

Getting ready to remove turbine.
One of the upgrades currently underway is the replacement of the turbine runner for Unit 3 in the dam. The dam’s five units are capable of producing as much as 548 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity. Unit 3 generates about 100 megawatts of electricity by itself.

On Wednesday, Oct. 28 I was at the dam and produced a video about the removal of the turbine runner – the massive section of the unit that is spun by water. Avista Electric Foreman Howard Johnson actually let me go inside the penstock (well-supervised) to see the final preparations for the removal of the turbine.

The penstock is normally filled with rushing water that slams into the turbine. It was a little creepy climbing through the tiny porthole to get in – I’m not shy about saying that. But today the penstock was filled with workers getting the turbine ready for removal and prepped for its replacement. The new turbine, which should be in around March will produce more electricity than its predecessor – saving customers money.

Upgrading our electric system isn’t just about power lines or the things you see every day, it’s also where the power comes from, like hydro dams. Most people don’t get to see work like this, so I produced this video to show the final prep work and removal of the Unit 3’s turbine.
 
The video shows some of the damage and maintenance on the turbine over the last 50 years and why a new one is prudent. Check out the video.

So the next time I write something about upgrading our system, think about this massive 250,000-pound turbine being lifted across the deck of the dam all in the name of producing hydro electricity better and cheaper for customers.
 
Published: 10/30/2009  1:45 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 02 , 2009
Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the rededication of the Noxon Rapids Dam in Montana – 50 years after it first started cranking out renewable hydroelectric power. The dam is an important piece of Avista’s electric generation – providing 548.4 megawatts. That’s enough power for about 411,000 homes for comparison sake.

But the ceremony was more than what the power provided means. It was about Sanders County and its people. The dam certainly changed the face of the county half a century ago. It brought jobs, schools, a doubling of the population and it undeniably changed the environment on the Clark Fork River. This is why the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement was also celebrated yesterday. About 10 years ago, the agreement was signed for managing and protecting the natural resources associated with the hydro project.

As many speakers noted during the day, the settlement agreement wasn’t easy. It was really the first of its kind to bring in multiple stakeholders as a team to figure out what’s best for the surrounding environment. The money that is usually spent on lawyers and litigation during the long relicensing of dams, could now be spent on the work needed to be done to help mitigate any environmental impacts.

It took trust and faith that Avista would follow through on its promises. Looking back 10 years later, the agreement is a standout success, as speakers from environmental groups, local tribes and government agencies attested. It’s a living relicense that is monitored constantly – the work continues today.  You can learn more about the agreement here.

Not to get “all touchy feely,” but yesterday really made me proud of my company and co-workers. It was a great day.

In the news
Today in the Missoulian, reporter Vince Devlin wrote a really great article, "Celebrating consensus: Noxon Rapids Dam commemorates 50th anniversary" about the Noxon events and even interviewed some the attendees during a tour of the dam. I’d really recommend taking a look at it
Published: 10/2/2009  9:05 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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