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May 26 , 2016
 

Today, Avista filed a general rate request with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (IPUC or Commission) to increase base rates for electric customers in Idaho. If approved, new rates would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

 

Electric Request and Customer Bills

 

Electric

The filing includes:

·         a request for a 6.3 percent increase in revenues

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $5.25  to $6.25

 

 

Bill:

A residential customer using an average of 918 kilowatt hours per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $6.54 per month or 7.7 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $91.26

 

 

The actual percentage increase for electric customers would vary by customer class and depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

Process and Timing

Avista cannot change customer rates on its own. The Commission approves or sets energy rates that are fair and reasonable for the customer and Avista. It can take up to nine months for the Commission to review the requests and make a decision, 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 set rates. You may hear updates on 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 and transmission and distribution equipment. The costs of these investments continue to rise. Our rates are cost-based, meaning that the costs included in customer rates reflect the costs of the equipment when installed. When we replace or update old equipment with new equipment and technology, it can cost many times more than when it was originally installed.

 

What does this investment look like?

Below are some of the capital projects and investments that are included in the rate request.

 

Little Falls Powerhouse Redevelopment

Our Little Falls dam has been generating renewable, low-cost power for more than 100 years, with equipment ranging from 60 to more than 100 years old. This multi-year project is replacing the unreliable equipment and modernizing the station service so that we can continue to provide reliable service for our customers. Throughout 2015, one of the four generating units was reassembled and put back in service and new LED lights were installed in the plant. In 2016, work is underway to disassemble the second of four generating units and reassemble with new equipment, as well as the installation of a new downstream warning system.

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 108-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost 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. 

 

Post Falls South Channel Dam Upgrades

In 2016, Avista completed a two-year project that refurbished and upgraded the Post Falls South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project included replacing the original concrete with new concrete facing that helps control water levels of Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of three rivers, six new spill gates, frames and hoists along with a new spillway control system and electrical distribution that enable the structure to continue its role in generating reliable, clean and low-cost renewable energy.

 

Please visit our website here to learn more about this filing and the rate-making process.

Published: 5/26/2016  12:59 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 19 , 2016
 

Today, Avista filed general rate requests with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC or Commission) to increase base rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. This proposal includes an 18- month rate plan, with new rates taking effect Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018, if approved. Here are the details about the requests:

 

2017 Requests and Customer Bills – Beginning Jan. 1, 2017

 

Electric

Natural Gas

A residential customer using an average of 957 kilowatt hours per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $6.83 per month or 8.2 percent

·         An increase in the monthly basic charge from $8.50  to $9.50

·         A revised monthly bill of $89.62

A residential customer using an average of 66 therms per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $2.13 per month or 3.5  percent

·         An increase in the monthly basic charge from $9.00 to $9.50

·         A revised monthly bill of $63.50

 

 

2018 Requests and Customer Bills – Beginning Jan. 1, 2018

 

Electric

Natural Gas

Under the proposal, residential electric customers would not experience a billed rate increase on Jan. 1, 2018 due to a rebate related to the Energy Recovery Mechanism (ERM). The ERM rebate would offset the residential base rate increase of 4.2 percent for January through June 2018.

 

A residential customer using an average of 66 therms per month could expect to see, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $0.79 per month or 1.2  percent

·         No change to the monthly basic charge

·         A revised monthly bill of $64.29

 

 

The actual percentage increase for electric and natural gas customers would vary by customer class and depend on how much energy a customer uses.

 

Process and Timing

Avista cannot change customer rates on its own. The Commission approves or sets energy rates that are fair and reasonable for the customer and Avista. It can take up to 11 months for the Commission to review the requests and make a decision, 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 set rates. You may hear updates on 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 new meter technology. The costs of these investments continue to rise. Our rates are cost-based, meaning that the costs included in customer rates reflect the costs of the equipment when installed. When we replace or update old equipment with new equipment and technology, it can cost many times more than when it was installed.

 

What does this investment look like?

Below are some of the large, multi-year capital projects and investments that are included in the rate request.

 

Little Falls Powerhouse Redevelopment

Our Little Falls dam has been generating renewable, low-cost power for more than 100 years, with equipment ranging from 60 to more than 100 years old. This multi-year project is replacing the unreliable equipment and modernizing the station service so that we can continue to provide reliable service for our customers. Throughout 2015, one of the four generating units was reassembled and put back in service and new LED lights were installed in the plant. In 2016, work is underway to disassemble the second of four generating units and reassemble with new equipment, as well as the installation of a new downstream warning system.

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, which is 108-years-old. The project is underway to replace turbine-generator units, and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost 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. 

 

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 2016, work will take place across all three states we serve, including Spokane, WA, Genesee, ID, Klamath Falls, OR and more. Learn more about this work and view all locations scheduled for 2016 here.

 

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

Avista continues to invest in modernizing our grid to meet current and future energy needs. In 2016, Avista will plan for deploying Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) in Washington. Currently, Avista has only installed around 13,000 advanced meters in Pullman as part of our Smart Grid Demonstration Project. This multi-year AMI project includes installation of advanced meters in Washington.

 

Advanced meters allow for two-way communication between Avista and customers. The new advanced meters are digital and equipped with secure, wireless communications technology that 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.

2015 Windstorm

The November 2015 windstorm was the worst natural disaster in Avista’s history. Near hurricane-force winds knocked down trees which brought down power poles, power lines, transformers and other equipment. A portion of this rate request is to recover costs to replace equipment and infrastructure damaged in the storm. You should know storm expenses will not be recovered all at once but rather spread out over many years—similar to how other infrastructure costs are included in rates.

 

Please visit our website here to learn more about this filing and the rate-making process.

Published: 2/19/2016  1:13 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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:

 

Electric

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

 

 

Bill impact:

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

 

 

Natural Gas

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

 

 

Bill impact:

 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

 

Timing

 

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.

Published: 2/9/2015  1:09 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 30 , 2012
Coyote Springs video
 
Post by Brandi Smith

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.
Published: 8/30/2012  3:06 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 13 , 2012
Post by Laurine Jue
 
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.
Published: 7/13/2012  11:51 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 10 , 2012
Burke-Thompson
Vertical brace
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
well.
Temporary bridge
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
bridge.
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.
Published: 7/10/2012  12:11 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 12 , 2012
Coyote Springs 2 images
 
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.
Published: 6/12/2012  1:40 PM | 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

May 09 , 2012
Avista is working to improve paths and viewing points along the Spokane River

Riverfront Park footbridge
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.
New viewing platform on Spokane River
Later this summer, Riverfront Park visitors will also
have a new east-facing viewing platform to take in
the beautiful Spokane River.
Viewing area, looking east
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.
Published: 5/9/2012  9:05 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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