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Jun 07 , 2011
1920 image
2003 image
The photo on the left is of group of children touring one of our hydro facilities, Long Lake Dam (circa 1920).
The photo above right is a snapshot of Stevens Elementary sixth graders touring the dam in 2003.
Post by Sarah Hilbert 

We are Avista - the same reliable company we've always been. For well over a century (since 1889 to be exact), we've built a legacy of dependable service and engagement in the communities we serve. To help illustrate that, we’ve gone deep into our photo archive to uncover some snapshots of our history.
Today we feature one of our generating facilities which sits on the Spokane River approximately 30 miles northwest of Spokane, Long Lake Dam.
The photo above left is of group of children touring one of our hydro facilities, Long Lake Dam (circa 1920).
The photo above right is a snapshot of Stevens Elementary sixth graders touring Long Lake Dam in 2003. Both photos were featured in Avista’s 2003 Annual Report. These students would be in their second or third year of college today.
Legacy matters. We’ve put together a website that details Avista’s history, check out:
Then and now facts
When it was completed in 1915, Long Lake was "the world's highest spillway dam." Its turbines were also the largest (both in size and capacity) of any in existence at the time.
Today, the Long Lake development (HED) is capable of meeting the average energy needs of almost 35,000 households.
Published: 6/7/2011  9:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 27 , 2011

Noxon Rapids Dam

Post by Brandi Smith

One safe group!
The group was officially recognized for their milestone
at one of their routine monthly safety meetings.
Pride in their work and respect for one another is the perfect description of the crew of 13 employees at Noxon Rapids Dam who have gone 7,300 days without a lost-time accident. That’s 20 years and counting--an impressive feat considering the amount of work that has been taking place over the last few years to upgrade the 51-year-old structure as well as the amount of contract employees who rotate through the facility. So far, they have completed three out of four unit upgrades without a recordable accident or injury.

Noxon Unit 3 removal
“Safety at Noxon is a mind-set and a group effort above all else,” said Chief Operator Pat Kelly who will be retiring after 30 years of service with Avista this June. He attributes their successful safety record to the good old adage that anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time. The close knit group talks about safety on a daily basis, evaluating hazards and discussing near misses.

“This record is secondary to the people who work here and go home safe and sound at the end of the day,” said Kelly. “We watch out for one another and pay close attention to safety procedures. If we identify a source or area for potential injury, we talk about it and make it safe.”

In addition to generating an excellent safety culture, Noxon Rapids Dam is widely known throughout Avista as our workhorse with a generating capacity of 562.4 Megawatts.
Published: 5/27/2011  3:56 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 22 , 2011

Post by Anna Scarlett

Avista Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Jaremko Nissan let us show this 2011 Nissan
Leaf to our employees.

Avista’s commitment to the environment is ingrained in our company’s culture. By protecting natural resources and being innovators in conservation and energy efficiency, we walk the talk of environmental stewardship. We do this year-round, but on Earth Day, Avista employees take a little extra time to reflect on our commitment to being wise stewards of the environment. Today marks the 41st anniversary of Earth Day – a day to appreciate and raise awareness about the Earth’s environment.

Last year in conjunction with our other Earth Day activities, Avista installed three electric vehicle charging stations for use in Spokane – one at Avista’s Mission Street campus, one at the Steam Plant in downtown Spokane, and one at Spokane’s City Hall. Yesterday, the City of Spokane announced that Avista and the city have partnered to upgrade the electric vehicle charging station at City Hall to a “Level 2” station that can charge electric and electric-hybrid vehicles more quickly. 
Avista has also upgraded our campus charging station, and we will soon upgrade the station at the Steam Plant. At 240 volts and 30 amps, the Level 2 station can completely charge a new Nissan Leaf in about four hours, just half the time of the earlier 110-volt, Level 1 station, which is equivalent to a typical household outlet. Today, we showed Avista employees how the new Nissan Leaf can be charged at the upgraded stations.

Consumers are increasingly looking for alternative modes of transportation to offset fuel costs, lessen our country’s dependence on oil, and reduce their carbon footprint. Electric-gas hybrid and all-electric vehicles are now available, and use is becoming more widespread. Attractive tax incentives and lower prices make converting to alternative transportation more affordable to the average consumer.

Pluggin in the 2011 Nissan Leaf
The Level 2 charging station
will charge an electric in
half the time as a Level 1
charging station.
Avista will continue to monitor the adoption of electric transportation to ensure we can keep providing the reliable energy that our customers have enjoyed for the past 120 years, while exploring new ways to incorporate renewable energy and keeping costs as low as possible.

Our website has tools and information for customers who are considering purchasing an electric vehicle, including installing a home charging system and the impact charging could have on their bill. Electric vehicle charging stations may one day be as common as corner gas stations are today, and we’re planning to be prepared for that.



Published: 4/22/2011  4:42 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 30 , 2011
Avista crew replacing and upgrading a new electrical structure.
This Avista crew was in the middle of installing a
large steel electrical structure that holds power lines
which cross the Spokane River near SFCC and TJ
Meenach Bridge. The old wooden structure is still
standing in the middle with the poles connected at
the top. Two of the taller steel replacement poles are
on the picture on the left and right. The placement of
this structure is on the side of a 45-degree angle
ravine that slopes down to the river below. Once the
full structure is built the crew will re-string new, more
efficient power lines across the river.
Crew members fill in a hole for the new steel pole.
The Avista crew fills in the hole for a new steel pole.
A contractor had to shoot gravel down the ravine on
a belt to fill in the massive depth of the new poles.
We all use power every day, but don’t always know where it comes from or why it’s so reliable
Post By Dan Kolbet 

This morning I wrote a reply in an ongoing online conversation I’ve been having with a few folks on a local news website. The discussion was wide-ranging from rates to hydropower.  We don’t always agree with one another. That’s OK. It got me thinking about power generation in our area and our customers’ use of it.

One area of the discussion that struck me was the idea that Avista’s hydroelectric dams (built when the company was Washington Water Power) were paid for by taxpayers. I don’t know if this is a common misperception, but it’s incorrect. In fact, all of Avista’s (WWPs) dams were built through private funding. All Spokane River projects: Monroe Street (1890) Post Falls (1906), Nine Mile (1908), Nine Mile (1915) and Upper Falls (1922); and Clark Fork projects: Noxon Rapids (1959) and Cabinet Gorge (1953) were built privately.

There are so many little dams chugging away day after day, decade after decade that they are easy to ignore. Even after four years of working at Avista when I think of a “big” dam, I find myself thinking of Grand Coulee or Chief Joseph dams on the Columbia River. Those are federal dams built with taxes, Avista’s weren’t.

Our power mix is roughly 50 percent hydroelectricity. Forty-two of that 50 percent comes from the dams we built, own and operate. The rest come from long-term contracts with other hydro generators.

Focusing on reliability so you don’t have to
Operating these dams and electric resources is really a complex process that most of us don’t think about every day. The perception may exist since these resources are up and running that power has, and always will be plentiful and reliable. That’s just not the case. We’ve got to work at it together. One of the questions I received last summer when I was working on our Energy on the Street project was about the future of energy. How is Avista planning for the future?
The web of electric generation around the Northwest provides juice for those who want it and pay for it. When I come home at night and flip on the lights, I don’t think about where that power comes from and I bet you don’t either. Is it hydro, natural gas, biomass, coal or wind? But there’s a system in place that we manage that ensures you get the power you need when you want it. That’s one way to think of reliability.

The system is also reliable because employees maintain it. The effort extends beyond maintaining or upgrading power plants. It’s reliable because of the people who climb the poles in six-feet of snow. The men and women who brave the elements to ensure the power lines that feed your home are back in service as quickly as possible when nature’s fury blows trees into the lines, encases them in ice or burns them to the ground in a firestorm.

Avista’s electrical system is rooted around 125 years of history, but it’s not on autopilot. Our employees work hard to ensure that when you flip the light switch or turn on the TV, you don’t have to think about 125 years of power lines and dams. All you need to know is that we’re taking care of it and that it’s there for you when you need it. That’s reliability.
Published: 3/30/2011  11:22 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 14 , 2011
Original Song video
Grand Prize Video winner, "Original Song" by Vivek Jayarm, Rachit Singh, Maritz Lang from Pullman High School.
Post by Brandi Smith

They're On Video
Grand Prize Runner Up video winner, "They're On"
by Hunter Farnsworth and Kyle Libey of Pullman
High School.
Looking for a little creative refreshment to start your day? Well look no further. High school students from our service territory recently took the “Every Little Bit” video challenge to create a short film demonstrating the importance of energy efficiency. With over 70 entries, the competition was fierce.

The Grand Prize winners were three imaginative students from Pullman High School. Not only will their school get a $2,500 technology grant from Avista, but they will each receive a day of learning at NxNW Production Company in Spokane as part of their prize package. Talk about awesome.

Check out the top five videos by clicking on the links below. You will no doubt be inspired by their creativity and attention to detail. Watch out “Glee,” it looks like our local talent might give you a run for your money. 

• “Original Song” Grand Prize video by Vivek Jayarm, Rachit Singh, Maritz Lang from Pullman High School.
• “They’re On” Grand Prize Runner Up video winner by Hunter Farnsworth and Kyle Libey of Pullman High School.

• “Eco-Friendly Rap” Viewers Choice Award by Aliva Imholt, Jesse German, and Ethan Sanchez of St. Maries High School.

• “Simple Ideas” Honorable Mention by Savannah Miller and Ana Ruddlesden of Mead High School.

• “Eye Save Energy” Honorable Mention by Chelsea Thaut and Jessica Hudson of St. Maries High School
Published: 3/14/2011  2:12 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 02 , 2011
Post by Brandi Smith

Noxon turbine runner and shaft.
This is a picture of the upgraded turbine runner and shaft
prior to installation. The turbine runner (water wheel) is 18
feet in diameter and weighs 130,000 pounds.
Generator rotor.
This picture shows the generator rotor being lowered into unit
3. It is 34 feet in diameter and weighs 650,000 pounds.
Project management is like juggling three balls at once - time, cost, and quality. The four-year, $45 million project to upgrade four generating units at Noxon Rapids Dam, Avista’s largest hydro facility, started in July of 2008. The improvements include upgrading the generator, installing higher capacity transformers and replacing the original turbine runners in all four units.

Sounds simple enough right? Well not so much.

Unfortunately, our local hardware stores don’t carry parts for turbine runners and generator rotors, so as you can imagine, this is no small deal. In fact, many of the parts that need to be replaced or refurbished have to be ordered a year in advance and are shipped from all over North America.

Each turbine runner weighs 130,000 pounds and the generator rotor weighs 650,000 pounds which combined is the equivalent of 47 elephants. Dealing with such significant weights and sizes makes the project more complex. Additionally, all of these upgrades are taking place in the midst of routine dam operations and maintenance. Talk about a juggling act.

To date, the Noxon team has finished upgrading two units and is nearly finished with the third, which will start seeing action this spring. The crew will begin work on the final unit this summer to complete the project by April of next year.

When finished, the improved turbine runners will generate more power using the same amount of water. Pretty cool, right? Approximately 30 megawatts will be added to the plant’s current maximum capacity (556.6 MW) and the incremental energy generated will meet some of the renewable energy portfolio standards as well. It’s a win-win.
The Noxon Rapids Dam is located on the Clark Fork River in Montana and provides Avista customers in Washington and Idaho with clean, renewable hydroelectric power.

Watch this video from 2009 of Noxon’s Unit 3 being removed from the bowels of the dam. Avista Blog: Noxon Rapids Dam upgrades underway, massive Unit 3 turbine removed.
Published: 3/2/2011  2:56 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 23 , 2010
Post and video by Dan Kolbet
We created this Power Supply video, shown below, last March when we filed for rate adjustments in our General Rate cases in Washington and Idaho. Now that both cases have come to their respective conclusions, this video serves as a good reminder of what you're paying for with the adjusted rates.  
See more: Washington rate adjustments, Idaho rate adjustments
Power Supply video
Published: 11/23/2010  9:34 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 24 , 2010
Play video
Post by Dan Kolbet
Energy on the Street
Where does renewable power come from?
Avista Stadium is powered 100% by renewable energy through Avista's Block-a-Block program. Where does that energy come from? (0:37)
This video is just one of the Energy on the Street customer questions and Avista answers. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to visit this interactive website. It launched on Sept. 1. We'll be adding more videos to the website in October.
Find out what your neighbors are asking about at Energy on the Street.
Published: 9/24/2010  4:24 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 19 , 2010
The Spokane River
The Spokane River through downtown Spokane.
One year into our new FERC license on the river, big projects happening

Watch for activity on the downtown Spokane stretch of the Spokane River beginning this week, as Avista starts work on several projects to protect and enhance fish, wildlife, water quality, recreation, cultural and aesthetic resources related to our Spokane River hydroelectric project.

Spokane River Activities Map
Click to view a map of the activities happening on
the Spokane River.
Over the next few months, visitors to the stretch of the river between Upper Falls and Monroe Street Dams will see equipment and temporary work structures in and around the river, including a crane near the river above Monroe Street Dam, intermittent aesthetic flows at Upper Falls Dam, sandbags, water bladders and moving equipment in the Upper Falls area. All of the equipment will be handled and operated with an emphasis on public safety and protecting the surrounding environment.

Work taking place includes a pilot study in the north channel of the river to learn what modifications can be made in order to return the river to a more natural state, and removal of accumulated rock, gravel and sediment at Monroe Street Dam. The work will begin in July and August as flows drop to their summer levels, and could be extended into early autumn.

While fishery work may not be as visible as other activities, it’s just as important. While we’re studying the river channel, biologists and contractors will be working in the stretch of the river between Upper Falls Reservoir and Monroe Street Dam, primarily on a study to assess whether fish can become trapped or stranded in the north channel of the river when water levels are low.

In late June, 3,000 catchable, sterile rainbow trout were planted in Upper Falls Reservoir. Another 3,000 fish will be planted in Upper Falls Reservoir this fall. The first year of a three-year fish population assessment will also be conducted in the Upper Falls Reservoir this fall.

Watch for updates as we progress, and see the attached map and handout for specific details, locations and approximate dates/timelines.

A year into the 50-year Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license to operate our five hydroelectric dams on the Spokane River (Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile Falls and Long Lake), the work Avista will do is just getting started. These significant environmental measures will benefit both the communities and the natural resources where our facilities are located. Protecting resources and responsibly operating our dams helps us continue to generate low-cost, renewable hydroelectric energy.
Published: 7/19/2010  11:10 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 17 , 2010
This summer and fall, Avista will replace the wooden flashboards at Nine Mile Hydroelectric Development with operable spillgates. The upgraded system will allow Avista to pre-program desired heights and give operators the ability to raise and lower the height of the spillway at any time, incrementally if needed, so that we can maintain the reservoir pool at a more constant level throughout the entire year.

Click to enlarge graphic
Click above to enlarge graphic.
Click to enlarge graphic
Click above to enlarge graphic.
What will the new spillway consist of?
The new spillway will consist of metal gates supported by air-filled rubber bladders. Compressors will inflate the bladders to approximately 25 psi to raise the gates. When stream flows are high enough, the bladders will deflate to lower the gates so water can flow over the top. The new, automated technology will be much more flexible and precise when managing the reservoir elevation.

What is the construction plan and timeline?
While the timeline is subject to change, the construction period is anticipated to be from July through October 2010. The new spillgates have been ordered and we expect delivery in July.

Once the new spillgates are delivered, we will remove some concrete from the top of the existing dam and replace it with new concrete to provide a good foundation to erect the new gates. A trough will be excavated in the dam crest for the compressed air lines that will be used to inflate the bladders.

The reservoir level must be lowered during construction to erect the new spillgates. During this period, the pool level will be 2 to 4 feet below the spillway crest, which may bring the level lower than what it has been in the past when the flashboards were erected each year in mid-summer. Construction should be complete and the reservoir level back to full pool by November of 2010.

How will the new spillway change Nine Mile operations?
No change in the full pool level is planned after the new spillway is installed. To the extent possible, we will maintain the reservoir level at the normal full pool elevation year around.

In the past the reservoir had to be lowered each summer to accommodate installation of the flashboards. When the flashboards were pulled in early winter or spring of each year, the material was lost and had to be replaced. Additionally, erecting the wooden flashboards each year is a labor intensive operation. The new spillway will result in less regular maintenance for Avista and enable the generation of additional power.
For project information, contact Steve Schultz, Project Manager, Senior Engineer.
Published: 6/17/2010  10:03 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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