Feb 09 , 2015
Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Here are the details about the request:
The filing includes:
· a request for a 6.7 percent increase in revenues, primarily for capital investments
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8.50 to $14.00
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 966 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $6.45 per month or 7.9 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $87.67
The filing includes:
· a request for an increase in revenues of 6.9 percent
· a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $9.00 to $12.00
The bill impact for a customer using an average of 68 therms per month would be, if approved:
· A total billed increase of $5.41 per month or 7.9 percent
· A revised monthly bill of $73.57
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. You may hear updates in the process in the coming months.
The cost of energy and customer rates
The main driver in the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. 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 to produce energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.
What does this investment look like?
Below are some of the capital projects and investments that are included in the rate request.
Nine Mile Powerhouse Project
We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 107-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable power. In 2013, the last two (of four) original turbine-generating units were removed to make way for the new, more efficient units. Work in the powerhouse to install the new units began in 2014 along with a new warehouse, barge dock and crane pad.
Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System
Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of our day-to-day customer operations. 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. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, over time it needed to be replaced. Years of work and investment in technology led to the launch of the new system in early February 2015.
Natural Gas Pipe Replacement
Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of older natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline to support a continuation of reliable service for our customers. In 2015, work will take place across all three states we serve, including Spokane, WA, Post Falls, ID, Lewiston, ID, Medford, OR and more. Learn more about this work and view all locations scheduled for 2015 here.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
Avista continues to invest in modernizing our grid to meet current and future energy needs. In 2015, Avista is planning for the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in Washington. This multi-year AMI project includes installing advanced meters, beginning in 2016.
Advanced meters allow for two-way communication between Avista and customers. The technology creates the foundation for future customer benefits, including faster outage detection and restoration of service, plus near real-time energy use information and energy usage alerts. These capabilities will allow customers to better understand and manage their energy use.
Learn more about the rate-making process. Watch this video. Read this one-sheet.
Aug 30 , 2012
When you think about how your electricity is generated you probably think it comes mainly from hydropower
. But did you know that Avista also uses natural gas as a fuel to generate electricity? In fact, it makes up 36% of our company owned electric power plants
. Natural gas generation is a dependable source of energy because the fuel can be stored to generate electricity anytime, and it has about half the carbon emissions of other fossil fuels, such as coal.
Avista and Portland General Electric co-own a combined cycle natural gas plant called Coyote Springs, located in Boardman, Oregon. The plant has 2 main generation units, and Avista owns Unit 2.
A combined cycle plant has a gas turbine and a steam unit all in one. These types of units are considered very efficient because they use the waste heat from the gas turbine to create steam, instead of exhausting it back into the atmosphere.
Unlike a simple cycle gas plant, which can be fired up quickly to meet the electricity generation needs of customers, the combined cycle plant at Coyote Springs is considered a “base load” facility because the natural gas generator needs to run consistently in order to provide heat for the steam generator.
Like a car, there are certain maintenance activities that need to take place after a number of years. This year, unit 2 had its first scheduled major maintenance since the unit went in service in 2002.
The project involves overhauling the natural gas and steam generators in unit 2. From start to finish, the project takes approximately six weeks to complete and a great deal of collaboration and teamwork.
The end result of the maintenance is that Unit 2 at Coyote Springs will continue to have the capacity to generate an average of 280 megawatts of power for our customers – that’s enough electricity for just over 210,000 homes.
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 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.
Jun 12 , 2012
Coyote Springs 2 is combined cycle generation plant that uses natural gas and steam
Avista’s generation unit at Coyote Springs has been disassembled since May 4 as major overhauls take place for the first time since the plant was built. The springtime timing is beneficial, since the maintenance requires the combined cycle plant to be offline during work.
Coyote Springs 2, near Boardman, Oregon is a combined cycle generation facility because it has a gas turbine that exhausts waste heat into a heat recovery steam generator, which provides steam to a steam turbine. Each turbine has its own generator that sends the electricity produced to the generator step-up transformer.
Portland General Electric Company owns Unit 1 and oversees daily general operations and maintenance activities for both units. Avista owns Unit 2 and does special projects and major maintenance for Unit 2, including this one.
The project involves overhauling the natural gas and steam turbines in Unit 2 as part of scheduled major maintenance work, required at regular intervals in the plant’s life. Avista’s thermal engineering group is coordinating the project and some of the work is being performed by Avista’s mechanical structural crews.
“This is the first time some parts of the steam turbine have been disassembled since it went in service on July 1, 2003,” Andy Vickers, Manager of Generation & Substation Support, said.
See photos of the dissassembled steam and natural gas unit in the slideshow above.
Reassembly is taking place over the next couple of weeks, and the unit is expected to be back online by the end of June.
May 30 , 2012
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
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.
May 09 , 2012
Avista is working to improve paths and viewing points along the Spokane River
Pedestrians can still access the suspension bridge to
get some great views of the Spokane River, however
the south entrance of the bridge near the Upper Falls
powerhouse will be closed for construction.
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also
have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in
the beautiful Spokane River.
The footbridge near the viewing platform will be open
to pedestrians during Memorial Day weekend.
Beginning this week, Riverfront Park visitors in downtown Spokane will be detoured away from the south end of the suspension bridge by Avista’s Upper Falls Dam powerhouse.
For the next four weeks, Avista is working on a project to improve the deteriorated asphalt roadway and powerhouse parking area. The asphalt roadway will be repaved with asphalt, concrete will be installed in front of the powerhouse, and reinforced turf and porous pavers and grass will be installed in this area. These improvements will improve access to the powerhouse and will make for an easier, safer trek for pedestrians crossing the bridge.
You can still enjoy the great views on the bridge by accessing it from the north side of Canada Island; you just can’t cross the bridge on the south end until the work is complete. The nearest river crossing in the park is Howard Street Bridge, just east of the suspension bridge by the Upper Falls Powerhouse. Signs will be posted to redirect park users.
Safety is a top priority at Avista. During our project, you may see workers, cranes, and other construction equipment in the area. For your safety, please obey posted signs and stay out of fenced-off areas.
New viewing platform
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in the beautiful Spokane River. Avista constructed the viewing platform last fall so we could access the Upper Falls Dam for maintenance and upgrades. This spring, we’re working on the east end of Havermale Island to complete paving of the area. Spokane City Parks and Recreation will take it from there to put in plants and vegetation.
The footbridge near the viewing platform will be open to pedestrians during Memorial Day weekend.
The work we’re doing will improve pedestrian access and aesthetics at Riverfront Park.
May 07 , 2012
Avista is replacing nearly 9 miles of natural gas
pipeline in Davenport, Wash. The project is
estimated to cost more than $3 million. The
work will be conducted May to October.
Bring in the diggers and heavy equipment because construction is underway in Davenport, Wash., as Avista replaces nearly 9 miles of natural gas pipeline that’s approaching the end of its service life. The project carries a price tag of more than $3 million. It’s part of Avista’s commitment to maintain and upgrade our natural gas pipeline system.
From May through October, Avista-authorized contractor Loy Clark will be installing new natural gas pipelines in streets and alleys throughout Davenport.
As we replace the natural gas pipeline one section at a time, Davenport natural gas customers will experience a short interruption of service while we’re working on the natural gas pipeline in a specific area. Customers will be notified two days in advance of working in their neighborhood so they can plan ahead. Once the work is complete and service is restored, qualified Avista personnel or contractors will safely relight appliances, such as water heaters.
Attendance was light when we held an open house at the Davenport Memorial Hall on Wednesday, May 2, to answer questions about the project. Hopefully that means that folks in Davenport are comfortable with the project.
This six-month, $3 million project is just one example of how Avista must continually invest in maintaining and upgrading the natural gas pipelines that allow us to serve our customers.
Apr 13 , 2012
Wind and solar get the renewable headlines, but what about biomass and hydro?
At Avista we like to say that we were founded on renewable hydroelectricity. We’re proud of it. Even today the biggest resource percentage of generated or purchased power comes from hydroelectricity. Yet nationally, renewable energy tends to be framed around wind, solar and sometimes biomass and hydro. Where does Avista, biomass, hydroelectricity and your power fit in the renewable discussion?
Let’s start with hydroelectricity. Unlike much of the country, the Northwest benefits from having abundant hydroelectric resources. It’s good for all of us, because it’s in our backyard. It’s pretty tough to get a new hydroelectric project started in the United States, so the growth in this area generally comes from modernizing generation to make it more efficient. For the past decade or more we’ve been doing just that on the Clark Fork River
at our Noxon Rapids and Cabinet Gorge dams.
Some of our hydroelectric dams on the Spokane River
are more than 100 years old, and since we need to keep those dams running responsibly and reliably, we’re always looking for ways to improve them. This year, we’re looking at upgrading parts of our Post Falls and Little Falls hydroelectric facilities. There’s no doubt about it, hydroelectricity is an important renewable resource.
Biomass is another example of renewable energy that doesn’t get much of the spotlight. Avista’s Kettle Falls biomass plant
was the first electric generating station of its kind constructed within the United States for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste. It opened in October of 1983 – roughly 29 year ago. That’s a long history of renewable generation. Beginning in 2016 Washington will officially recognize its operations as a renewable resource for the purposes of meeting Washington state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
Now for the hip, cool kids – wind and solar.
|A small solar array is affixed to the top of our
corporate headquarters today. It helps offset the
power we use to charge the Avista Sun Car.
Let’s talk solar first. Sure, the sun is free, but equipment involved in generating and delivering that power to the grid isn’t free - not by a long shot. In our area, given our other resources (like hydro), utility scale solar power isn’t in the cards, at least not today. We’re always on the lookout for proven resources, so that may change in the future, in fact a small solar array is affixed to the top of our corporate headquarters today. It helps offset the power we use to charge the Avista Sun Car.
Last, but certainly not least in this renewable roundup, is wind. Today Avista doesn’t generate any of its own power via wind, yet we’ve had a long-standing contract to buy wind power from the Stateline Wind Project on the Washington/Oregon border. Soon a new wind farm called Palouse Wind will come online near the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. The project is being developed by First Wind, but Avista has secured the rights to its electrical output for next 30 years. Avista has been thinking about how to incorporate wind into our generation mix for several years, so it’s certainly on our minds.
As you can see, from hydro to biomass, and wind to (a little) solar, we’re all over this renewable thing.
For another look at Avista’s power generation and planning for the future, check out our Electric Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)
. The IRP analyzes and outlines a strategy to meet projected demand and renewable portfolio standards through energy efficiency and a careful mix of qualifying renewable and traditional energy resources
Renewable energy and you
Avista launched a Buck-A-Block
voluntary rate program for customers in 2002. The program is still going strong today with thousands of megawatt hours of emission-free wind being purchased annually. Nearly 4,000 customers participate. When you sign up for Buck-A-Block
, you make a voluntary payment above and beyond your normal rates. Avista makes no profit from that additional money, which goes to support the renewable energy many of our customers prefer by purchasing environmental offsets from renewable energy generation.