Aug 16 , 2012
New Avista trucks
 
Avista to purchase more CNG bi-fuel vehicles each year
 
Post by Brandi Smith
 
Avista has a long tradition of being a wise steward of the environment. Recently, the Fleet Department aligned those goals when it comes to the vehicles we purchase.

“We are currently underway with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) initiative where we’re purchasing approximately 10-15 CNG Bi-Fuel vehicles a year,” said Fleet Manager, Chris Schlothauer. “Along with the vehicles, our existing CNG fueling infrastructure is currently being updated with bigger and better stations. These stations will accommodate our increased load from company-owned vehicles, along with the ability to provide this alternative fuel to the public at some point in the future.”

The latest addition to Avista’s alternative fuel fleet is a hybrid service truck that was built for Spokane Electric Line Operations. 

The hybrid technology in this unit is a Jobsite Energy Management System. How it works: When the truck arrives at the worksite, the operator engages the Power Take-off (PTO) as normal but instead of the engine continuing to run, the engine is shut off and batteries provide the power to run the hydraulics in the boom. If the system gets below a certain voltage, the engine will automatically turn on to recharge the batteries and then will shut off again to go back on stored battery power. This is a particularly important feature, because operating on battery power, it will have very little noise impact in the residential neighborhoods where it typically works long hours.

“We’re very excited to implement both of these alternative fuel technologies in our fleet, said Schlothauer. “Both the CNG and hybrid technology help us in reducing our carbon emissions along with saving fuel dollars over the long run. As we continue to move forward, we’ll look at other alternative fuel opportunities that align with Avista’s focus on sustainable business practices and environmental stewardship, along with the operational benefits to the departments that use them.”
 
 
Published: 8/16/2012  10:48 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 01 , 2012
Partnership formed to manage approximately 2,000 acres of Avista and DNR property around Nine Mile Dam and Lake Spokane
 
 
Nine Mile Resort
State Parks will now manage Avista’s Nine Mile
Recreation Area as part of its Riverside State Park
operations. We expect this to improve your recreation
experiences at this and our other facilities.
 
Lake Spokane
DNR’s Lake Spokane Campground, which includes
campsites, a boat launch, picnic and swimming areas,
will be open longer to extend the recreation season,
from April 15 through Oct. 15. In the future, the
campground will be also expanded as part of the
agreement.
Avista owns and operates five federally-licensed hydroelectric facilities on the Spokane River – Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile and Long Lake. Besides generating clean, reliable hydropower, these dams provide an abundance of recreation opportunities. As part of our 50-year federal license to operate our Spokane River hydroelectric facilities, we’re committed to working with agencies in Washington and Idaho to expand, enhance and preserve recreation opportunities related to our dams.

As part of this commitment, we’ve developed multi-year plans for recreation on and around Lake Spokane, the Spokane River, and Coeur d’Alene Lake, which include the following:
• Improving existing campgrounds, boat facilities, trails, and scenic overlooks
• Developing new recreation facilities and interpretive displays
• Increasing access for individuals with disabilities
• Partnering with others to operate and maintain recreation facilities in a cost-effective and responsible manner

We’ve already started working towards these goals. Today Avista and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a partnership to manage approximately 2,000 acres of Avista and DNR property around Nine Mile Dam and Lake Spokane (also known as Long Lake). Read the news release. 
 
State Parks will now manage Avista’s Nine Mile Falls and Lake Spokane Recreation areas and DNR’s Lake Spokane Campground as part of its Riverside State Park operations. This includes Nine Mile Recreation Area and our Long Lake Dam day-use area, as well as south shore trailheads during non-hunting seasons. State Parks will also manage Avista’s scenic overlooks at Long Lake and Nine Mile dams, and some of the new recreation facilities we plan to develop in 2013. These include a boat take-out above Nine Mile Dam, a boat put-in below Long Lake Dam, and 10 boat-in-only campsites on Lake Spokane.

Avista is also assisting State Parks in the management of DNR’s Lake Spokane Campground, which includes campsites, a boat launch, picnic and swimming areas. The campground and boat launch will be open longer to extend the recreation season, from April 15 through Oct. 15. In the future, the campground will be also expanded as part of the agreement.

We expect this partnership to increase and improve recreation, particularly around Lake Spokane, with services that include better security, maintenance, and ongoing upkeep. However, people recreating at these sites will now need a Discover Pass for day use, and may have to pay other state camping and boat launch fees as required. The Discover Pass fees help offset the high cost of maintaining recreation facilities for public use, and eliminate future potential fees that Avista may otherwise have to charge users of these facilities.

The good news is, for those of you who already have a Discover Pass, you’re getting a lot more for your investment in the local area. If you haven’t purchased a pass yet, doing so will help to ensure you have the best experience possible, whether you’re hiking, boating, camping, fishing, or just out for a day of picnicking and swimming. State Parks offers passes that reduce or waive camping and launch fees for limited-income senior citizens, disabled veterans, foster parents and people with disabilities. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
Published: 8/1/2012  4:20 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 25 , 2012
Vaughn with game biologist Joe Huston
Montana Fish and Game Biologist Joe Huston and WWP biologist Tim Vaughn (right) prepare brown trout eggs for
planting in 1966, as part of ongoing efforts to improve local sport fishing.
 
At Avista we talk a lot about our legacy and commitment to environmental stewardship. Tim Vaughan, Washington Water Power (WWP) retiree who passed away earlier this month at the age of 95, was instrumental in helping to build that legacy at Avista. He also left a legacy of his own - the importance of relationships and a passion for nature and the outdoors.

Vaughan was a pioneer of natural resource protection, and has been recognized as the one of the first biologists in the country hired by a power company to address the impact of dams on habitat and fish and wildlife. After first working as a consultant to WWP during the construction of Cabinet Gorge Dam in the early 1950s, Vaughan used his relationship-building skills to successfully show WWP leadership the need to hire a biologist on a permanent basis. Thus began Vaughan’s 25-year career at Avista – first as a founding member of the Environmental Affairs department, and later as manager of the department.

Through partnerships with agencies such as Idaho Fish and Game, Vaughan worked to creatively and jointly reach resource-preservation goals. Bob Anderson, former director of Avista’s Environmental Affairs department and a long-time friend of Vaughan said, “Tim lived the example of respecting others and building collaborative relationships. That’s just how he was, and it set the stage for how we’ve carried out big efforts like hydro relicensing.”

Today, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of generating power at Cabinet Gorge, Avista employees in the Environmental Affairs department work toward the same goals Vaughan envisioned long ago. Further, environmental stewardship is deeply embedded in our company culture.

Bruce Howard, director of Environmental Affairs, expects this type of respect for our environment to continue far into the future. “Tim’s legacy is now ours to carry on,” said Howard. And Avista employees will do just that.
Published: 7/25/2012  2:11 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 23 , 2012
Video
 
A peek at Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan for the Spokane River Project

Post by Brandi Smith

36 years ago, our nation’s bird and symbol of freedom was placed on the endangered species list. Today, the birds are rebounding again across the country and locally.
 
Avista’s Terrestrial Resource Specialist, David Armes, is in charge of implementing Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan – something we are required to do as part of our federal license to operate our Spokane River Project’s five hydroelectric facilities. 
 
Our contribution to the protection of the Bald Eagle includes annual surveys and monitoring of Bald Eagle nests located near the Spokane River Project area.  This includes Coeur d’Alene Lake and its three tributaries; the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and St. Maries Rivers as well as the Spokane River and Lake Spokane.

While conducting surveys we look to see if the nests are occupied, evaluate the success of the nests and observe the fledging period, a time when newborn Eagles are preparing to leave the nest. 

The information we gather is shared with natural resource agencies, such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. The information helps shape future efforts for protecting Bald Eagles in the area.  
 
Avista is proud to support the conservation effort of our nation’s bird and will continue our legacy of environmental stewardship and reliability.
Published: 7/23/2012  2:32 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 11 , 2012
Photo show of July 4 Celebrations on the Clark Fork
 

Original operator at Cabinet Gorge Dam, Clyde Meredith
One of the original operators of Cabinet
Gorge Dam, 90-year old Clyde Meredith,
who retired in 1984, rode alongside
Cabinet's current Chief Operator.
Avista employees and the community of Clark Fork celebrated our Independence Day and commemorated Cabinet Gorge 60th anniversary at the annual Clark Fork, Idaho - Fourth of July celebration last week.
 
Several of Avista’s hydro operations and environmental resources employees and their families, a line truck, electric safety demonstration trailer and Bull Trout education trailer took part in the community’s annual Fourth of July parade.
 
One of the original operators of Cabinet Gorge, 90-year old Clyde Meredith, who retired in 1984, was also in the parade. He rode alongside Cabinet Gorge’s current Chief Operator, Don Wells in Clark Fork License Manager Tim Swant’s 1965 Pontiac LeMans.
 
Avista helped support the community celebrations and fireworks, and donated a trailer-mounted BBQ to the Clark Fork Booster Club so they have a means of fundraising for many years to come.
 
We’re proud to be a part of the community of Clark Fork for the past 60 years. Happy Birthday to America, and to Cabinet Gorge.
Published: 7/11/2012  10:41 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 28 , 2012

Post Falls Dam

 

Will summer ever get here? That’s seems to be a common question heard around the Spokane area these days and at Avista too. As you make plans for the upcoming weekends and July 4 holiday, we want to keep you up to date on changing conditions in the Spokane River as well as educate you about a project we are working on at the Post Falls Dam.
 
 
We’ve started closing spill gates at our Post Falls Dam now that Coeur d’Alene Lake is back below the maximum summer level of 2,128 feet. However, heavy rainfall throughout the month of June has slowed our process, and we’ve had to make ongoing adjustments to accommodate river flows, which have increased rapidly on a number of occasions, as recently as Tuesday, June 26.

Closing spill gates causes the river level below the dam to decrease. With this in mind, the spill gates need to be closed gradually, so that fish below the dam are not stranded in pools of water. To achieve this we close spill gates at a rate that decreases the downstream river level no more than four inches per hour, which is required by our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to operate our dams on the Spokane River.

As the river flows stabilize, we continue to close the remaining spill gates. As the spill gates are closed the elevation of the river above the dam increases, which provides additional recreational opportunities on the river. Once the final spill gate is closed, the Q’emiln Park boat launch in Post Falls can be opened for the summer season. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and mid-July. The median date for closing the gates is June 22. We don’t expect to close the final spill gate until after July 4 due to this year’s rainfall and extended high spring runoff season.

We’d like to remind you to always exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors. The water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating on or near a lake or river at risk for hypothermia.

The best way to get the most current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River is to call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.

In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043.

The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check current river and lake levels on our website.
 
Avista’s summer work at Post Falls Dam
The dam needs ongoing maintenance and updates to keep it running safely and efficiently. This summer after the spring runoff season ends, Avista will be undertaking two projects to do that.
 
We’re planning to sandblast, repair and repaint the south channel spill gates, something that needs to be done every 30 to 40 years. We also plan to replace the lifting hoist and old timber intake gates that let water flow through the dam to the generator turbines at Post Falls Dam with new lifting hoists and steel gates.

Normally the generator turbines can pass about 5,400 cubic feet per second (cfs). Any additional water has to flow through the spill gates.

During the work, at least two generator units must be taken offline, which reduces the amount of water the power house can pass at any one time. This means the total river flow will need to be lower than normal before we can close all the spill gates and the Q’emiln Park boat launch can be opened.
 
Depending on weather, this will likely be about the second or third week of July.

During the project, we’ll do our best to minimize the disruption to recreation and power generation as much as possible, but the work is important so we can continue to safely generate clean, reliable hydropower. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the project reaches completion.
Published: 6/28/2012  12:18 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 20 , 2012

Aerial view of Post Falls Dam Spring 2012

 

 
School’s out and the weather is finally beginning to warm, which will have many of you making summer river and lake recreation plans. Before you head out for fun on the water, we would like to provide you with information about current river flows and lake levels, as well as our plans for summer operations at Post Falls Dam.

 
The amount of snow in the mountains continues to be well above normal, because the cool weather has slowed the snow melt. At the beginning of June, Avista began closing spill gates at Post Falls Dam. However, above normal June rainfall has again pushed Lake Coeur d’Alene above its summer elevation. Avista has had to re-open all spill gates and current flows in the Spokane River are more than twice the volume we would normally expect this time of year.

With snowpack still over 200 percent of normal for the Spokane River basin, and a forecast of cooler and wetter than average weather, the runoff is expected to continue well into the summer.
 
Avista will likely be spilling excess water over the spillways at Post Fall Dam until after the Fourth of July holiday this year. Because of the open spill gates, the river upstream of Post Falls Dam will continue to be lower than normal until after the runoff season, and the City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park will not open until after July 4th. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and mid-July. The median date for closing the gates is June 22.

Avista operates our hydroelectric facilities with a focus on several different objectives:
 
  • Meeting customer demand with reliable energy service
  • Operating safely and efficiently
  • Complying with local, federal and state regulations and laws
  • Being good environmental stewards
  • Providing recreation opportunities


Safety on the river
As always, we ask you to exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors. The water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating on or near a lake or river at risk for hypothermia, even in warmer weather. Here is some other important safety information for your consideration:

  • Always wear a lifejacket on the water.
  • Obey all safety and warning signs.
  • Never fish, play or anchor your boat below a dam.
  • Sudden discharges can increase water flows in a hurry.
  • Don’t cross the boater safety cable above a dam. The current could pull you through a spill gate or drag you under water near a powerhouse.
  • Watch overhead clearances like cables and power lines when sailing.

The best way to get the latest information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River is to call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.

In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043.

The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.
 
You can also check current river and lake levels on our website. Property owners and lake users are reminded to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate changing water conditions.

For more information on lake and river levels, please call Pat Maher at (509) 495-4283.
Published: 6/20/2012  10:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 30 , 2012
Cover of Shared Value Report
 
 
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 only. 
 
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.

 
Published: 5/30/2012  8:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 27 , 2012
slideshow

 
Arbor Day celebrated with award and tree planting

The vocabulary word for today is arboriculture - that’s the planting and care of woody plants, especially trees.

Arboriculture is something that Avista is actively engaged in through our vegetation management program which works to keep trees clear of power lines, helping to ensure reliable service to customers. We’re also engaged in customer and community outreach programs that contribute to a healthy urban tree canopy through tree plantings and that educate customers on the importance of planting the right tree in the right place especially around power lines.

That on-going commitment has earned Avista its first Tree Line USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. The national program promotes the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees across utility service areas. Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, presented Avista with the award today at the Spokane Conservation District in Spokane Valley.

After the presentation the district planted a memorial cockspur hawthorn, the Avista 2012 Utility Smart Tree of the Year. See photos above.

Some of Avista’s programs which contributed to the company receiving the award are:
• The street tree replacement collaboration with Spokane Conservation District and the City of Spokane which removes tall growing trees located beneath power lines and replaces them with low-growing species that are compatible with overhead lines.
• The energy saving shade tree program which is a partnership with the Spokane Conservation District to help residential customers in Spokane County strategically plant shade trees to help reduce their energy costs.
• The announcement of the utility compatible tree of the year and planting of the tree in a ceremony held in Spokane
• Annual Arbor Day celebrations

Also contributing to Avista receiving the Tree Line USA Award is its commitment to quality tree care by adhering to industry standards and ensuring that employees and contract workers are trained in best practices.
 
More information
What kinds of trees can be planted near power lines?
• Only plant tree species that mature at 20’ or less near power lines.
• If you would like a list of power line compatible trees please call 1-800-727-9170, Extension 8514.
• For more species selection good sources of information are the County Extension Offices, City Parks Department, certified arborists, and reputable plant nurseries.
• If planting in city strips there may be ordinances over species selection.
Published: 4/27/2012  11:20 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 16 , 2012
Enter to win
It could be as easy as making a small commitment to energy efficiency
 
 
Avista, KREM 2’s Project Green and Toyota have teamed up again in support of energy efficiency with one lucky person winning a new Prius C donated by Toyota.

For a chance to win the Prius C, donated by Toyota, viewers need to watch for the daily keyword during KREM news broadcasts from April 9 to May 23, and then enter the keywords at KREM.com. Avista customers can get two bonus entries by making a commitment to energy efficiency at everylittlebit.com and by “liking” Every Little Bit on Facebook. The deadline for entries is May 23 with the drawing on May 31.

The purpose of the campaign is to increase customer awareness and engagement in the importance of energy efficiency. For over 30 years, Avista has been helping customers become more energy efficient by offering programs and rebates to make home improvements and by providing valuable tools such as our online energy advisor. When it comes to energy, Avista knows efficiency matters and every little bit adds up.

Our region’s energy needs are growing, but building or purchasing new sources of` power including renewable energy isn’t cheap. Energy efficiency costs half the amount of generating new power and is the best approach to maximizing our existing resources.

KREM 2 Project Green showcases the company’s concern for the environment regarding energy efficiency, recycling and transportation. Toyota, which donated the Prius C, is proud to be constantly striving to provide the best possible driving experience while using the smallest amount of our natural resources. It’s a great partnership.

While just one person will win the Prius C, everyone participating in the campaign will be an energy efficiency winner. Through KREM news coverage about the importance of energy efficiency and information on Avista’s everylittlebit.com site about rebates and energy savings tips, viewers and customers can learn how to better manage their energy use.
Published: 4/16/2012  9:42 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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