Oct 11 , 2012
If increases are approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year
This power pole in Hayden, Idaho, has deteriorated
to the point where it needs to be replaced. We have
over 240,000 distribution poles in our electric system.
Based on a 40-year depreciable life, we would need
to replace approximately 6,000 poles every year.
If our requests are approved and you’re an electric residential customer in Idaho using an average of 930 kilowatt hours per month, you would see an increase of $4.20 per month, or about 14 cents a day, for a revised bill of $82.89. If you’re a natural gas customer using an average of 60 therms per month, you would see an increase of $4.12, or about 14 cents a day, for a revised monthly bill of $56.67. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has up to seven months to approve our requests, and the increases wouldn’t take effect until sometime next year.
You may be thinking we just heard about a rate decrease, so why an increase? The costs of delivering energy to you safely and reliably continue to rise. We work hard to manage our costs, while making sure you have the reliable energy that you expect, at some of the lowest prices in the Northwest. The good news is we’ve been able to pass savings from lower natural gas prices and power costs through to you with multiple rate decreases, and we hope this will help soften the impact of the rising costs of delivery to your energy bill.
Rates have decreased throughout 2012
Effective Oct. 1, if you are an Idaho customer, you saw decreases in both natural gas and electric rates
because of lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs, after the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved our rate decrease requests filed in July. Your rates have decreased your natural gas rates twice this year, dropping them by approximately 12 percent overall. In fact, even if today’s rate increase request is approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year – and around what they were 10 years ago. Electric rates have remained fairly flat as well when you adjust for inflation.
We’re maintaining and upgrading our system for you
Maintaining and upgrading our energy-delivery system is ongoing, and costs more with each passing year. It’s a little like taking care of your home or car. You always have maintenance and operation costs, and sometimes you have to upgrade or update old equipment with new. And that’s expensive. For instance, if you remodel your kitchen, new appliances cost much more than the old ones did when they were purchased.
To serve all of our customers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, Avista has an extensive system that we have to take care of. To do this, we expect to invest approximately $250 million each year for the next three to five years to continue updating and maintaining our system to serve our customers’ energy needs.
Help is available if you’re struggling with bills
We realize in these difficult economic times it can be a struggle for people to meet their basic needs. We offer services for customers such as comfort level billing, payment arrangements and CARES (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Services) representatives. Our CARES reps are specially-trained employees who provide referrals to area agencies and churches for customers with special needs for help with housing, utilities, medical assistance, and other needs. To learn more, visit www.avistautilities.com
Oct 09 , 2012
Area residents will learn about energy efficiency, managing their home energy bills and more at the free Avista Energy Fair 2012. It will be held in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, October 10 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Harding Family Center, 411 North 15th Street.
Avista employees and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about the following:
-Energy Efficiency – See low-cost and no-cost efficiency demonstrations for solutions like rope caulking, door sweeps and window plastic. Free samples will be handed out.
-Bill Assistance – Avista customer service representatives can answer billing questions, provide information about payment options and refer to energy assistance programs. You can also learn how to use Avista's free online Bill Analyzer.
-Community Assistance – Avista and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about energy assistance, weatherization and other topics.
-Kids Meet Wattson – Stop by and see Wattson the Energy Watchdog! Kids activities include crafts, dancing and interactive games.
Parking is free and there will be complimentary food and beverages, door prizes and activities for the kids at most locations. Avista will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations that are requested for individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Community Development Consumer Affairs Office at (509) 495-8024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
if accommodations are needed.
Oct 01 , 2012
If you’re an Avista customer in Idaho, we’ve got good news for you just in time for the cooler months of fall and winter. Beginning today and through the winter months, depending on your energy usage, you’ll see lower electric and natural gas rates. That’s because last week the Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved several rate decrease requests
we filed in July.
Rates for our natural gas customers in Idaho have decreased twice this year because of lower wholesale prices. Overall, natural gas rates have dropped by almost 12 percent in 2012.
Today’s decreases are mostly because of lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs. You might remember we reduced natural gas rates for Idaho customers in March by 6 percent. Like then, abundant supplies of natural gas and lower demand have continued to push wholesale natural gas prices downward. That’s good news. Why? Because we pass those savings directly through to you. The cost of purchasing natural gas on the wholesale market is around 40 percent of your bill, so it makes a difference.
The same can be said for electricity. About 60 cents of every dollar you pay for electricity goes towards generating or purchasing the energy itself. So when power supply costs are lower, it means your bill is a little lower. And every little bit adds up.
Starting today, if you use an average of 939 kilowatt-hours per month, you’ll see your electricity bill decrease $1.09 per month to $79.46. If you are a natural gas customer using an average of 60 therms a month, you will see your bill decrease $3.23 to $52.55 per month.
Sep 10 , 2012
The Avista Energy Fair will be in Lewiston, Idaho
tomorrow at the Lewiston Community Center from
3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Hope to see you there.
The Avista Energy Fair
will be in Lewiston, Idaho tomorrow at the Lewiston Community Center from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. It will offer demonstrations of ways to keep homes warm and safe for the winter ahead. Fair attendees can speak with Avista staff and learn first-hand about low-cost and no-cost energy efficiency tips. They’ll see how to install window draft stoppers like rope caulk, window plastic and v-seal. Free samples of these and other materials to help people maximize energy efficiency in their homes will be given out at the fair.
In addition, Avista employees will have information about billing assistance and payment options. Avista community partners will also be on hand to offer helpful information about other community resources.
Each year our customers ask for help in managing their energy use and costs during the winter. It’s never too early in the year for us to offer a broad range of ideas and demonstrations that will help residents keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside their homes. This event provides a great way for customers to conveniently access Avista’s many services. Information about payment options, energy assistance and energy efficiency will be especially helpful to those struggling to pay their bills.
Energy Fair Details
Tuesday, September 11
3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Lewiston Community Center
1424 Main St., Lewiston, ID
Price = Free
Jul 31 , 2012
Today Avista filed several requests with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to decrease natural gas and electric prices for our customers in Idaho. If approved, natural gas prices would decrease by an overall 8 percent and electric prices by an overall 2 percent for our Idaho customers beginning Oct. 1. This would be the second natural gas price reduction for our customers in Idaho this year. Read more about these filings in the press release we just issued
Each year, we propose to adjust rates our customers pay so that customers’ bills reflect our actual costs of purchasing natural gas and generating and purchasing electric power. Today’s requested rate reductions are due to, among other things, lower natural gas prices and lower power supply costs, which is good news for our customers. Learn more about Natural gas prices.
You may recall the commission in Idaho approved our request to reduce natural gas rates by an overall 6 percent in March. If today’s requests are approved, natural gas rates will have decreased by more than 14 percent overall for Idaho customers in 2012.
Today’s requests include two electric rate adjustments and two natural gas rate adjustments:
• Avista’s annual Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)
• Avista’s annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA)
• Electric and Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Tariff Rider Adjustments (Tariff Rider)
Post Falls Dam - a hydroelectric
facility in Idaho.
The major portion of an Avista electric customer’s bill, about 60 percent, is the cost of generating or purchasing electricity to meet customer needs. These costs may fluctuate up or down. The proposed PCA rebate would pass through reduced power supply costs during the twelve-month period that ended June 30, 2012.
We also filed a request with the IPUC to reduce the electric Energy Efficiency Tariff Rider Adjustment (Tariff Rider). The Tariff Rider is the rate paid by customers that funds the company’s energy efficiency programs.
The two proposed rate decreases will be offset partially by the expiration of an existing refund rate being passed through to customers.
If today’s requests are approved by the commission, the monthly bill for a residential electric customer in Idaho using an average of 939 kilowatt-hours per month would decrease from $80.55 to $79.46, a decrease of $1.09 per month, or 1.4 percent, beginning Oct. 1.
New gas pipelines being
installed new Highway 95 in
The combined costs of purchasing natural gas on the wholesale market and transporting it to Avista’s system makes up about 55 percent of an Avista natural gas customer’s bill, and these costs fluctuate up and down based on market prices. Avista does not mark these costs up. Read more about this in our Avista Blog series Natural Gas Pricing 101, Part 1: Wholesale Prices.
The annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) is a true-up that balances the cost of wholesale natural gas purchased by Avista to serve customers with the amount already included in customer rates. Abundant supplies of natural gas and continued soft demand for the commodity have continued to keep wholesale natural gas prices at lower levels over the past year.
Our second natural gas rate request filed with the IPUC is to reduce the natural gas Energy Efficiency Tariff Rider Adjustment (Tariff Rider). Similar to the electric Tariff Rider for energy efficiency, the natural gas Tariff Rider is the rate paid by customers that funds the Company’s natural gas energy efficiency programs.
If our requests are approved, residential natural gas customers using an average of 60 therms a month would see a $4.42, or 7.9 percent, decrease in their monthly rate for a revised monthly bill of $51.36, beginning Oct. 1.
Jul 26 , 2012
Last week, we began work at Paradise Path to
replace about 22 miles of electric lines. While
digging 22 feet into the ground, we hit bedrock,
which slowed progress down slightly. This picture
shows an auger being used to place a pole.
Bedrock makes it a tough job.
Post by Sarah Richards
We’ll have to close Paradise Path along Berman Creek Park and Styner Ave. in Moscow, Idaho for a couple extra days – July 30 – 31 – because of an unexpected turn of events. We’re in the process of replacing the power poles and wires connected to the Moscow City Substation.
Like any construction project, things can go smoothly until you hit rock, which is what happened – literally. About 22-feet into the ground, we hit bedrock. It will take some more time and effort than a normal dig to power through the solid rock, but we’ll be hard at work improving the reliability of service for our customers in the area.
It’s all part of a $7.5 million, three-year project to replace approximately 22 miles of electric transmission lines running from the Moscow City Substation south toward Lewiston.
Thank you for your patience as Avista continues to invest in our electric system so we can continue to deliver safe, reliable power to our customers.
Jul 23 , 2012
A peek at Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan for the Spokane River Project
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.
Jul 14 , 2012
Water levels allow spill gates at Post Falls Dam to be closed
Avista is advising Spokane River users that river recreation is now permitted in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boater safety cables located just upstream of the Post Falls Dam. River flows have dropped sufficiently to allow all of the spill gates at the hydroelectric facility to be closed.
The City of Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public today. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22.
This year, several factors delayed the closure of the spill gates at Post Falls Dam. The spring runoff season extended well into the month of July, due to a larger than average snowpack and rainfall in June that amounted to more than twice the normal amounts.
Avista’s project to replace the lifting hoists and old timber intake gates at its Post Falls Dam with modern lifting hoists and new steel gates delayed the spill gate closure an additional week. During the work, at least two generator units must be taken out of service, which reduces the amount of water that can pass through the power house at any one time. This means the total river flow had to be lower than normal before the spill gates could be completely closed and the Q’emiln Park boat launch could be opened.
Visitors to Falls Park will see equipment and temporary work structures in and around the river, including cranes, barges, trucks and contractors throughout the project, which is expected to be completed by November. Some areas of the park may be temporarily fenced off, and detours or alternate viewpoints may be designated for park visitors. The public is requested to obey posted signs, stay out of the area of the river below the dam and keep clear of designated work areas.
Avista expects summer operation at the dam to continue through Labor Day, as long as weather conditions allow. River users are cautioned that weather conditions and dam operations can cause rapid changes in water levels. Please exercise caution when using the waterways.
For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, 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 weather and water flow information on the Avista Utilities website.
Jul 13 , 2012
The Paradise Path along Berman Creekside Park and Styner Ave. in Moscow, Idaho will be closed from July 16-20 while Avista upgrades the poles and wires connected to the Moscow City Substation.
Investing in reliability for you and your area
As part of Avista’s ongoing investment to maintain and upgrade our electric system, Avista will invest $7.5 million over three years to replace approximately 22 miles of electric transmission lines running from the Moscow City Substation south toward Lewiston.
To improve reliability for customers in the region, Avista will be replacing old wooden poles with new steel poles that will require less maintenance in the future. We’re also upgrading the transmission lines for greater efficiency and with a higher clearance area for your safety. The new transmission poles will be fiber-optic wire ready.
Construction along Paradise Path begins July 16 and runs through July 20. We do not anticipate any power outages related to this work.
Thank you for your patience as Avista continues to invest in our electric system so we can continue to deliver safe, reliable power to our customers.
Jul 10 , 2012
The Burke-Thompson Falls A and B trans-
mission structures were originally constructed
in 1924. Avista crews are replacing the old
wooden poles with taller, steel poles. The
new design will stage the poles closer to
the center of the right of way, which will
improve efficiency, as the likelihood of a
tree falling on the line diminishes. The new
design requires 50 percent fewer poles as
To access the Burke-Thompson Falls A and
B transmission lines, we’re building three
temporary bridges so our equipment can
safely cross. Shown below, a temporary
bridge a crew is setting over the existing
Avista upgrades nearly 90-year old equipment to improve safety and reliability
At the east end of the Silver Valley stands the Burke-Thompson Falls A and B transmission lines. Our customers in this region depend on these primary “arteries” of power to deliver electricity to their homes and businesses.
Situated in a remote location near the Idaho/Montana border, maintaining the Burke-Thompson Falls lines carries its own set of challenges. And part of the solution is rebuilding 8-miles of lines to better serve our customers.
The rural reality
The Silver Valley is known for its beautiful forests and ample snow in the winter. The rural reality – lots of snow and trees don’t bode well for transmission lines.
“The snow levels can get very high in that area,” said Kellogg Operations Manager Bob Beitz. “When outages occur in the winter, we can't access them without a Sno-Cat. When our crews jump out of the cat, they are up to their armpits in snow. Trying to replace a pole in those conditions is a herculean effort.”
All that snow can weigh heavily on the forested areas near the power lines, which can result in falling branches and toppling trees. Even if our rights of way are 100-feet wide, falling trees can cause power outages.
The solution: A rebuild to alleviate outages and concerns
This year, we’re rebuilding 8 miles of electric transmission lines from Burke to the Montana border to improve the safety and reliability of delivering power to our customers. The project carries a price tag of $2.5 million. It’s part of Avista’s ongoing investments to maintain and upgrade our electric system.
The transmission lines were originally constructed in 1924. Though updated several times over the decades, many of the original structures still exist and will be replaced this year. We’ll be re-using the existing wire for the project.
Avista crews are replacing the old wooden poles with taller, steel poles. The new design will stage the poles closer to the center of the right of way, which will improve efficiency, as the likelihood of a tree falling on the line diminishes. The new design requires 50 percent fewer poles as well.
Investing in the future
Many parts of our system are 30, 40 and even 50 years old. Some of the poles on the Burke-Thompson Falls A and B lines are nearly 90 years old.
As we rebuild this section of our electric transmission system, we’ll also have to build three temporary bridges to accommodate the heavy equipment necessary for the construction project.
It’s a big job, but it’s well worth the effort. This is another example of what it takes to provide safe, reliable service for our customers, now – and in the future.