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Nov 28 , 2012
Cabinet Gorge banner

This hydroelectric dam on the Clark Fork River is still a youngster at 60 years old
 
Whenever you flip a light switch, plug in an appliance, or turn on your furnace, you expect and receive energy on demand. Since the completion of our very first hydroelectric project in 1890, Avista’s dams have generated dependable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible power for our customers.

We’ve been celebrating the 60th anniversary of one of our youngest dams, Cabinet Gorge, throughout the year. Recently we had a banner produced that will hang in the control center at the dam. In November, Avista received special recognition from Idaho Lt. Governor Brad Little. The Lieutenant Governor presented a proclamation honoring the contribution of Cabinet Gorge to the region and the state of Idaho.

This year also marks the 14th year of successful, collaborative implementation of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources associated with our Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project. The agreement, signed in 1999 after several years of negotiation, resulted in a 45-year operating license from FERC to operate Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.

With growing development of renewable energy like wind and solar, which depend on variable fuel sources, our dams are even more important as a dependable source of energy. Water can be stored and hydropower plants can be fired up quickly to meet energy need when the wind isn’t blowing.
Published: 11/28/2012  11:09 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 11 , 2012
A service dog helps deliver an Avista form, at the Avista energy fair.
This special service dog lent a paw, at Avista's recent
energy fair in Idaho.
The Avista energy fair in Idaho.

Nearly 200 people - and one very special service dog - attended Avista’s Energy Fair at the Hayden Family Center in Coeur d’Alene yesterday.

The gymnasium was buzzing with conversations about how to keep cold air outside the home this winter by installing items like window plastic and outlet covers to keep drafts from coming indoors. The materials were provided free as part of the energy efficiency tote bag every attendee received as they arrived. Community partners, including the Idaho Department of Labor, ElderHelp of Idaho and the Community Action Partnership talked with fair-goers about the community services and resources available in Kootenai County.

Once the learning was done, warm servings of chili and cornbread quenched the appetites of young and old alike, served up by the ladies from Christ Kitchen, a non-profit that provides job training for women and delicious catering for us to enjoy.

The Avista Energy Fair is one of several outreach activities our company shares with the communities we serve. It gives us an opportunity to personally share information with our customers in locations close to your homes and businesses – making it more convenient for you to find the answers to your questions.

The final Energy Fair for 2012 is scheduled for Thursday, November 8 at Spokane’s East Central Community Center, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more here.
Published: 10/11/2012  2:28 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 11 , 2012
If increases are approved, your natural gas rates will still be lower than they were at this time last year

If you’re an Avista customer in Idaho, you may have heard that today Avista filed requests to increase your electric and natural gas rates in Idaho. Click here to read the press release we just issued.

New and old power pole in Idaho
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.
Published: 10/11/2012  1:00 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 09 , 2012
Post by Dan Kolbet

Meet some nice folks at the Energy Fair!
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 lisa.lee@avistacorp.com if accommodations are needed.
 
Published: 10/9/2012  4:21 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 01 , 2012
Avista graphic
 
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. 
 
To learn about more ways to save on your energy bill visit www.everylittlebit.com.
 

 
Published: 10/1/2012  4:32 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 10 , 2012
 
Join us at the energy fair in Lewiston.
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.
 
For the kids, and the kids at heart, Wattson, Avista’s Energy Watchdog, will be on hand to share his message of energy efficiency and safety.
 
Wattson, Avista's Energy Dog
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

 
Published: 9/10/2012  10:11 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 31 , 2012
Avista
 

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
Post Falls Dam - a hydroelectric
facility in Idaho.
Electric
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.

Installing new gas pipelines.
New gas pipelines being
installed new Highway 95 in
North Idaho.
Natural Gas
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.

Please share your comments, concerns and questions with us: visit www.avistautilities.com/Blog, or email us at conversation@avistautilities.com.
Published: 7/31/2012  1:23 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 26 , 2012
Using an auger to place a pole. Bedrock make that a tough task
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.
 
 
Published: 7/26/2012  1:43 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 14 , 2012
photo of Post Falls
 
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.

In an emergency, if spill gates need to be opened, the boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park may be temporarily closed, as well as the area of the river downstream of Spokane Street Bridge. If this occurs, boaters in the area will be notified, and temporary closure signs will be posted. This specific “ordinance area” is addressed in the Post Falls Boater/Swimmer Ordinances; City of Post Falls Ordinance 875 sec 8.44.010 and Section II-D of Kootenai County Resolution 2006-68.
 
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.
Published: 7/14/2012  12:14 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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