Feb 12 , 2014
Inland Northwest homes and businesses typically see highest energy bills of the year in January and February. And this year isn’t any different as we have seen a long winter heating season. With sustained cold temperatures, heating systems run longer and work harder to keep the temperature at the level set on the thermostat which increases energy use.
In addition to energy use, the number of days in a billing cycle will also have an impact on energy bills. The average number of days in a billing cycle is 31, but it can range from 28 to 34 depending on the number of days in a month and any holidays. The number of days in a customer’s billing cycle is displayed on each monthly bill.
Heating and cooling a home can make up as much as half of annual energy use, so taking steps in winter to keep the warm air inside the home and the cold air outside can help manage energy use. Some easy ways to get started include:
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees and lower it to 63 at night and when leaving the house. If you have a heat pump as the main heating source, a two to three degree setback is what is recommended. Installing a programmable thermostat will let you set it and forget it.
- Seal air leaks by installing door sweeps on exterior doors or putting a towel at the bottom of the door, caulking around windows and exterior doors, and installing foam insulators behind switch plates and outlet covers on exterior walls.
- Clean or replace furnace filters regularly. And, keep vents clear of obstructions.
- Electric space heaters are more efficient when used to heat a smaller occupied space or in a common area that is generally cooler than the rest of the house.
- Limit using an open fireplace when it is extremely cold because the fireplace will draw heated air from your home and send it up the chimney.
Additional, there are low- and no-cost energy efficiency information, including rebates and incentives available for customers
. You can also access tools
that provide a month-to-month comparison of their bills with details on factors impacting each bill and other helpful information, such as a graph on two-year energy consumption.
Feb 04 , 2014
Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Avista has not filed a general rate request in Washington since April 2012. If approved, the new rates would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Here are the details about the request:
The filing includes:
· a request for a 3.8 percent increase in base revenues for capital investments
· the expiration of two rebates customers are currently receiving that are reducing monthly electric bills by 2.8 percent
· the proposal of a new rebate that would reduce customer bills by 1.1 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $15
These rebates are passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis and do not increase or decrease the company’s earnings.
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 965 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $4.89 per month or 6.1 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $84.98
The filing includes:
· a request for an increase in base revenues of 8.1 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $12
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 65 therm per months would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $5.23 per month or 8.5 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $66.42
This request will take time to be approved. In Washington, this can take up to 11 months, during which time the commission will thoroughly review Avista’s request and costs as well as relevant data and take public comments. Once reviewed, the commission will approve rates they feel are reasonable and fair.
The cost of energy and customer rates
The main driver in filing the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. We expect capital investments of $335 million in 2014, up from $280 million in 2013. These investments include upgrades and maintenance of generation facilities, transmission and distribution equipment, natural gas pipe and information technology upgrades.
Keeping rates fair and reasonable for our customers is a key part of our decision making. It’s a balance. The cost of energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.
What does this investment look like?
Below are some capital projects that are included in the rate request.
Post Falls South Channel Dam Project
Beginning spring 2014, Avista will upgrade the 106-year-old South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project includes:
· replacing the original concrete on the structure that helps control water levels of Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of the three rivers
· installing new electronic gates and hoists
· installing new electrical and controls to automate the opening and closing of the spillway gates, increasing efficiencies and reducing cost
This work will increase reliability and preserve the life of this important generation resource.
Nine Mile Powerhouse Project
We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, also 106-years-old. . The project will replace original generators, turbines and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power.
Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System
Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of Avista’s day-to-day customer operations. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, it needs to be replaced. The system touches all of our customers and supports traditional utility business functions, such as meter reading, customer billing, payment processing, credit, customer service orders and material management.
Natural Gas Pipe Replacement
Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline that was installed prior to 1987.
Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.
Nov 08 , 2013
Avista recently announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Alaska Energy and Resources Company (AERC), which includes its primary subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company (AEL&P), which is the sole electric services provider for Juneau, the state capital of Alaska.
When the transaction is complete AERC will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avista Corp. The transaction, pending regulatory approvals is not expected to be completed until mid-year 2014. The $170 million purchase price will be funded through the issuance of Avista common stock to the shareholders of AERC. Read the news release.
“AEL&P’s 120-year culture of service and community partnership is a great long-term fit with Avista Corp. We have found AEL&P to have similar cultural values and focus on providing safe, reliable service from clean, renewable energy sources that Avista has held dear for nearly 125 years. We look forward to working with their highly skilled and dedicated management and employees, and to being part of the Juneau community,” said Avista Corp. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Morris. “This agreement reflects Avista’s strategy to expand and diversify energy assets and deliver long-term value to the customers, communities and investors we serve.”
Since there is no plan to merge Avista Utilities and AEL&P’s utility operations, customers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho won’t see any big changes.
This isn’t the first time Avista has acquired a utility or utility properties. In the early ‘90s Avista (WWP) acquired CP National’s Oregon and California properties. This provided the basis for our Oregon operations today. And in 1994, Avista acquired PacifiCorp’s Northern Idaho electric properties, which included Sandpoint, Idaho.
Oct 02 , 2013
We want customers to be aware of a telephone scam making its way across the country.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today warned utility consumers of a growing telephone scam.
The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers.
Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
If you receive a call like this, please hang up immediately and call us at 1-800-227-9187 to let us know. You are also advised to call your local law enforcement agency to report it.
Consumers are also urged to report suspicious calls to both the UTC at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).
Aug 05 , 2013
Avista is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Kettle Falls Generating Station this month with an open house. To celebrate, the public is invited to an open house on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 9:00am - 11:00am at the Kettle Falls Generating Station 1151 U.S. Hwy 395 North, Kettle Falls, Wash.
Built in 1983, the Kettle Falls plant was the first utility-owned electric generating station of its kind in the U.S. constructed for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste, or biomass. The award-winning plant, combined with Avista’s legacy hydroelectric power projects, has contributed to Avista being listed among the greenest utilities in the country. The facility produces up to 61 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 46,000 homes.
While wood waste is just one of many resources that Avista employs throughout their system, the Kettle Falls facility is special. It is a model of efficiency and innovation, and Avista’s secret is out.
The Association of Washington Business, Power Magazine, the U.S. Forest Service, and the state of Washington are among the many institutions that have recognized Kettle Falls for its contributions to industry and the environment. With the dedication to environmental stewardship demonstrated by partnerships in the timber industry, Avista produces energy with a resource that is clean and abundant – renewable in the best sense of the word.
With the support of legislators, the community and Avista employees, the Kettle Falls Generating Station is well-positioned to be a part of the region’s clean energy future.
Avista is pleased to be celebrating 30 years of the Kettle Falls Generating Station, which supports over 100 jobs, a strong tax base, a healthy economy, and a vibrant community. Avista is grateful for the relationships that have been built over 30 years. Avista is proud of our history and excited about our future.
Jul 17 , 2013
Post by Dan Kolbet
Just last week Avista, First Wind and Vestas, along with more than 100 invited guests officially dedicated the first wind farm built in Avista’s service territory – Palouse Wind. The day also marked the celebration of the facility’s 150,000 megawatt hour of energy produced since the farm opened in December 2012.
On hand to kick off the event was Washington Governor Jay Inslee admired the lush landscape and said, “there’s probably not another place in the world today that’s producing more green electricity, surrounded by greener pea and wheat fields, generating more green economic activity for small rural communities, than right here at Palouse Wind.”
Since the Palouse Wind project went online, it has brought significant long-term tax revenue to Whitman County while generating enough clean energy to power the homes of about 30,000 Avista customers.
As the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County, the 105 MW project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines installed between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction the Palouse Wind project pumped more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of construction-related jobs and drove significant revenue for local businesses.
Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and is taking delivery of the power through a direct interconnection to Avista’s 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line. This is the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory and it is helping Avista achieve its goal of providing reliable energy to its customers at a reasonable cost, while helping meet Washington state renewable portfolio standards, now and into the future.
May 30 , 2013
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers that they want more information about how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community partnerships. Avista’s fifth annual report on our performance – our sustainability responsibility report -- is titled “Shared Value – Shared Success.”
Our purpose statement says, “To improve life’s quality with energy – safely, reliably and responsibly.” Each year, our report provides a comprehensive look at 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. We’ve added some great graphics to help illustrate some of the information, as well as links to videos and other online resources to give readers many different ways to get the most complete story possible.
As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published only online. But a PDF file can be downloaded for your convenience in reading the report or sharing it 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 by email at SharedValue@avistacorp.com
. We want to hear from you about how we can continue to build shared value and shared successes.
May 29 , 2013
Today, Avista and local Spokane first responders participated in a surprise, mock electrical emergency that involved the theft of copper wire from overhead power lines. Avista facilitated the exercise that resulted in mock injuries to one thief and resulted in a fatality for another.
Avista crews arrived at a scene in North Spokane to find a rescue dummy (thief 1) draped over an overhead power line near a power pole. His accomplice, (thief 2) was attached to the base of the pole. Both men had received electrical shocks as they attempted to steal copper wire.
The crew moved swiftly to ensure the power lines were de-energized, meaning no electricity was running through them. They then removed the copper thieves from the pole and began life-saving efforts with the aid of local first responders who had already secured the surrounding scene.
Avista and first responders work in coordination on this sort of mock scenario to ensure that when they do occur in real life, all agencies respond appropriately.
All agencies involved are reviewing their performance to find any areas of improvement for the future.
Copper theft is a serious and dangerous crime. Since mid-2011 approximately 123 copper theft incidents have occurred in the Spokane area costing Avista and its customers $400,000 in replacement costs. The danger is not only to thieves, but also anyone who comes into contact with a live electrical line. For your safety, if you see a down wire, stay away and call Avista at 1-800-227-9187.
Mar 27 , 2013
Idaho customers provided more rate certainty over the next two years.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC) has approved the multi-party settlement agreement in the electric and natural gas rate requests we filed last October. If you’re an Idaho natural gas customer, you’ll see two adjustments to your natural gas rates – April 1 and Oct. 1. Electric customers will see an adjustment on Oct. 1.
We’ve agreed not to request an increase in base retail rates that would take effect before Jan. 1, 2015. Other annual adjustments, such as for the cost of wholesale natural gas and purchased power, can still be requested since they are a separate part of your rate and have no impact on earnings. This means you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better manage your energy costs.
The bottom line
As a result of the approval, you’ll see two rate changes if you’re an Avista Idaho natural gas customer:
- Beginning April 1, if you use an average 60 therms of natural gas a month, you’ll see an increase of $2.82 a month for a revised bill of $55.37.
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an additional increase of $0.31 for a revised bill of $55.68.
If you’re an electric customer using an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month:
- Beginning Oct. 1, you’ll see an increase of $2.04 for a revised monthly bill of $80.73.
Feb 06 , 2013
Proposed settlement provides more certainty for customers to manage energy costs over the next two years
Today we announced a settlement agreement with several parties on the Idaho electric and natural gas general rate requests we filed back in October
. You can read our news release here
. The settlement, if approved by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or commission) would mean a two-phase rate increase in electric and natural gas rates. The first would take effect April 1, 2013 and the second on Oct. 1, 2013.
As part of the settlement, we’ve agreed not to request additional general rate increases that would take effect before Jan. 1 of 2015. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t adjust rates based on power supply or wholesale natural gas costs before then (remember, that’s a separate part of your bill). For more information about how we adjust those costs, read our Natural Gas Pricing 101
series or visit our website area About Natural Gas and Power Costs
But what it does mean is that you’ll have more certainty in your energy rates for the next two years, so you can better plan to manage your energy costs. And your energy prices will still be among the lowest in the nation
The bottom line
Here’s how the changes, if approved would affect your energy bill.
If the commission approves the settlement and you are an Avista electric customer, you would see one general rate increase:
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 930 kilowatt hours a month, you would see an increase of $2.04 per month, for a revised bill of $80.73.
Here’s how the changes, if approved, would affect you as a natural gas customer:
• Beginning April 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an increase of $2.82 a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.37.
• Beginning Oct. 1, 2013, if you use an average of 60 therms a month, you would see an additional increase of 31 cents a month, for a revised monthly bill of $55.68.
The settlement and what’s next
You may be wondering what a rate case settlement agreement is and how it all works. When Avista files a request to increase rates, it goes through a process much like a legal proceeding. Parties representing various groups including residential, small-business, low-income and electric industrial customers, participate on behalf of their groups.
The commission oversees this process, and is charged with setting rates that are fair, just, and reasonable for customers, while allowing Avista the opportunity to earn a fair return on the investment shareholders make so we can continue delivering safe, reliable energy. When we can reach an agreement like this one, it saves time and the cost of a fully litigated rate case. It is ultimately up to the commission to approve the request.
In addition to Avista, the parties to the proposed settlement are the Staff of the IPUC, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Idaho Forest Group and The Idaho Conservation League. The IPUC will establish a procedural schedule to gather comments on the proposed settlement from parties to the rate case, as well as customers of Avista, prior to making a decision. For more information, see the IPUC website
Here is another resource about how energy rates are set that you might find helpful.