Oct 02 , 2013
 
 
We want customers to be aware of a telephone scam making its way across the country.
 
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today warned utility consumers of a growing telephone scam.
 
The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers.

Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.”
 
If you receive a call like this, please hang up immediately and call us at 1-800-227-9187 to let us know. You are also advised to call your local law enforcement agency to report it.

Consumers are also urged to report suspicious calls to both the UTC at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882).
Published: 10/2/2013  2:19 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 08 , 2013
 
Posted by Jessie Wuerst
 
Avista launched an eight-month project today to renovate land it owns south and west of our Post Street substation in downtown Spokane. The area, known as Huntington Park, is named for the third president of the company, David L. Huntington, who served from 1910 to 1927. The renovation project is scheduled for completion in early 2014. A copy of the revised concept plan (PDF) is available online.
 
The renovation and enhancements to the walkways, grassy areas and structures will provide residents and visitors with greater access to the Spokane River and views of the falls. The project will provide visitors with interpretive displays, more park-like amenities and enhanced safety in the area.
 
Much of the project area falls within the scope of the federal license Avista Utilities has to operate the Spokane River Hydroelectric Projects. Under that license and the Federal Power Act, the utility has an obligation to enhance public access near the river and recreation facilities appropriate to the setting.
 
“Our goal is to make the park more inviting and easier to access, as well as to tie it in with Riverfront Park, as the city moves forward with its master planning process,” said Avista Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Scott Morris. “We’re very excited to have Huntington Park once again be the gateway to the lower falls of the river, much like it was when it was dedicated some 40 years ago as the city was preparing for Expo 74.”
 
The renovation of the 3.8-acre parcel, along with the addition of a public plaza that will replace a parking lot on the north side of City Hall, will foster greater connectivity between Riverfront Park and Huntington Park. Improvements include a new pedestrian crosswalk across Post Street between Riverfront Park and City Hall, new stairs, ramps, sidewalks, lighting, grassy areas and seating. An old power turbine and other artifacts will be added for interpretive displays, and a viewing area of the falls on the northwest corner of the historic Post Street substation building will be updated.
 
The project is scheduled to begin today and run through March 2014, to finish in advance of Avista’s 125th Anniversary and the 40th Anniversary of the World’s Fair in Riverfront Park.
Published: 7/8/2013  1:38 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 01 , 2013
video
 
Avista coordinates mock electrical accident and rescue involving copper theft
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
When the power goes out on a stormy day, it’s easy to attribute that outage to weather. Sometimes an overly-curious squirrel is the culprit of a power outage (they really like transformers). But one of the most troubling outages an Avista crew sees is when criminals steal copper from the electrical system that serves you.

Recently Avista and local Spokane first responders participated in a surprise, mock electrical emergency that involved the theft of copper wire from overhead power lines. Avista facilitated the exercise that resulted in mock injuries to one thief and resulted in a fatality for another.

The video above explains the exercise, why we do it and what benefits it generates for Avista and our first responder-partners.

This mock accident was coordinated by Avista Journeyman Lineman Mike Toutloff. Dozens of other employees assisted in this successful event. Of note were members of the electric line crew:  Chris Christopherson, Brian Morse, Paul Gifford, Jarrad Hansen and Ben Gies. The colorful character “getting arrested” in the video is Journeyman Lineman Brady Hansen.

Thanks also to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Dept., Fire District 9, Fire District 18 and EMS personnel.

The Scenario
Avista crews arrived at a scene in North Spokane to find a rescue dummy (thief 1) draped over an overhead power line near a power pole. His accomplice, (thief 2) was attached to the base of the pole. Both men had received electrical shocks as they attempted to steal copper wire.

The crew moved swiftly to ensure the power lines were de-energized, meaning no electricity was running through them. They then removed the copper thieves from the pole and began life-saving efforts with the aid of local first responders who had already secured the surrounding scene.
Avista and first responders work in coordination on this sort of mock scenario to ensure that when they do occur in real life, all agencies respond appropriately.

All agencies involved are reviewing their performance to find any areas of improvement for the future.

Copper theft is a serious and dangerous crime. Since mid-2011 approximately 123 copper theft incidents have occurred in the Spokane area costing Avista and its customers $400,000 in replacement costs. The danger is not only to thieves, but also anyone who comes into contact with a live electrical line. For your safety, if you see a down wire, stay away and call Avista at 1-800-227-9187.
Published: 7/1/2013  4:44 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 30 , 2013
 
 
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers that they want more information about how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community partnerships. Avista’s fifth annual report on our performance – our sustainability responsibility report -- is titled “Shared Value – Shared Success.”
 
Our purpose statement says, “To improve life’s quality with energy – safely, reliably and responsibly.”  Each year, our report provides a comprehensive look at 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. We’ve added some great graphics to help illustrate some of the information, as well as links to videos and other online resources to give readers many different ways to get the most complete story possible.
 
As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published only online. But a PDF file can be downloaded for your convenience in reading the report or sharing it 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 by email at SharedValue@avistacorp.com. We want to hear from you about how we can continue to build shared value and shared successes.

 
Published: 5/30/2013  9:46 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 29 , 2013
Mock incident response photos
 
 
Today, Avista and local Spokane first responders participated in a surprise, mock electrical emergency that involved the theft of copper wire from overhead power lines. Avista facilitated the exercise that resulted in mock injuries to one thief and resulted in a fatality for another.

Avista crews arrived at a scene in North Spokane to find a rescue dummy (thief 1) draped over an overhead power line near a power pole. His accomplice, (thief 2) was attached to the base of the pole. Both men had received electrical shocks as they attempted to steal copper wire.

The crew moved swiftly to ensure the power lines were de-energized, meaning no electricity was running through them. They then removed the copper thieves from the pole and began life-saving efforts with the aid of local first responders who had already secured the surrounding scene.

Avista and first responders work in coordination on this sort of mock scenario to ensure that when they do occur in real life, all agencies respond appropriately.

All agencies involved are reviewing their performance to find any areas of improvement for the future.

Copper theft is a serious and dangerous crime. Since mid-2011 approximately 123 copper theft incidents have occurred in the Spokane area costing Avista and its customers $400,000 in replacement costs. The danger is not only to thieves, but also anyone who comes into contact with a live electrical line. For your safety, if you see a down wire, stay away and call Avista at 1-800-227-9187.
 
Published: 5/29/2013  12:06 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 09 , 2013
Spokane River Picture
 
Posted by Debbie Simock.
 
If this spring’s unseasonably warm weather is drawing you to the lake or river this weekend, Avista reminds you to exercise caution as snowmelt is causing high, swift and cold river flows.
 
While the water may look calm on top, the current is usually very strong. Combined with cold water temperatures, swimmers can find themselves in a dangerous situation quickly. As a public service, Avista reports on area lake and river levels and makes the reports available to the community by calling (509) 495-8043 or (208) 769-1357.
 
To protect yourself and your companions when recreating on or along a river or lake, always follow these important safety tips:
- Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), even if you are an adult. It’s always a good idea to attach an emergency alert whistle to your PFD.
- Remember that water is extremely cold in spring. Know the symptoms of hypothermia.
- Keep your head above water. Muscles in your limbs can stop working after only 10 minutes. Hypothermia can begin in one hour or less depending on the water temperatures.
- Be alert to strong currents and undertows.
- Always be alert for debris, obstructions and partially submerged objects that may be a result of spring run-off and high water conditions.
- Always obey warning signs near dams. 
- Never cross boater restraint cables or buoy lines that designate areas where boats should not operate. The closer a boat or individual gets to a dam or powerhouse, the more hazardous the situation becomes. 
- Never fish, swim or boat above or below a dam – water levels can change rapidly with the operation of spillgates and turbines.
- If in a sailboat or catamaran, always look for overhead cables and power lines.
- Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Never anchor your boat below a dam
- Make a voyage plan including the area you will be recreating, who is in your party and return time. Share the plan with someone who will not be in your party.
 
When on the water, obey all warning signs, follow all rules and regulations, and use common sense. Remember rivers and streams are at their peak flows during spring and early summer. Here are more safety tips.
 
 
Published: 5/9/2013  1:30 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 05 , 2013
 
 
Scams - it seems like hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear or read about one somewhere.
 
Unfortunately, scams involving utilities are not new. To help make sure you don’t fall victim to someone representing themselves as Avista, we want you to know about our standard business practices.
 
• Avista field employees and authorized contractors should wear or have in their possession their Avista photo identification badge. Ask to see it if you are in doubt. If they don’t have identification, you can ask them to leave.
 
• Some of our field employees wear a lime-green safety reflective vest with an Avista logo while others often wear a sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt or other similar clothing with an Avista logo.
 
• Authorized Avista contractors have vehicle signs stating they are under contract to Avista Utilities.
 
• Field employees and authorized contractors typically do not need access to the inside of your home unless you have contacted Avista directly about a specific problem.
 
• As a customer, you should not receive a phone call or email from us asking for your confidential information, such as security number, credit card number or banking information or demanding immediate payment over the phone. Instead a customer with a past due amount would be notified by letter of the outstanding balance and possible disconnection of service.
 
• If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an Avista representative asking for your confidential information, end the call and phone us at (800) 227-9187. That’s our customer service number which is also located on your Avista bill. You can also call us any time to verify the identification of an employee or authorized contractor.
 
Always think safety first. Do not give in to high pressure tactics to let someone into your home or to provide confidential information over the phone.
 

 
Published: 2/5/2013  3:52 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 23 , 2013
 
Picture of Lake Spokane with water receded from shore
 
 
Avista Utilities will start to draw down the water level at Lake Spokane (Long Lake Reservoir) today. Operators expect to lower the reservoir up to one foot per day for a two to three-week period, until it reaches its winter elevation of 13 to 14 feet below maximum summer elevation of 1,536 feet.
 
Under the right weather conditions, which include sustained periods of single-digit temperatures and little or no snow on the exposed lakebed, the drawdown is expected to help control Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic weeds found in Lake Spokane. The drawdown also allows shoreline homeowners the opportunity to complete state and locally permitted repair and construction projects along the lake shoreline.
 
Property owners and lake-users are reminded to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate shifting ice and low-water conditions. Floating and removable docks are less susceptible to damage from shifting or changing ice levels.
 
The lower winter elevation will be maintained as long as river flows allow. However, during the drawdown period water levels are subject to change due to a variety of factors, such as weather (rain on snow events in the upper drainages) or maintenance at the Long Lake Dam. Lake users should always be alert to signs of such changes and exercise the highest level of personal caution and safety.
 
Avista also has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated changes on Lake Spokane, the Spokane River and Coeur d’Alene Lake. In Washington, call (509) 495-8043; in Idaho, call (208) 769-1357.
 
The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check current river and lake levels on our website.
 

 
Published: 1/23/2013  12:46 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 15 , 2012
Post by Brandi Smith

snowy house
We’re lucky to live in an area that experiences very few power outages related to storms. But, that doesn’t mean we’re immune to the treachery of old man winter. A heavy build-up of ice and snow on power lines can cause wires to snap and utility poles to topple. Falling trees and tree limbs covered in ice can bring down power lines, cause outages, and threaten property, even lives.

While it is never our intent for you to experience a lengthy outage, being prepared and knowing what to do during an extended power outage is essential. Rest assured that our crews work diligently to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

Here are six must-know tips on how to prepare for a winter power outage:

1. Keep the following emergency supplies on hand: flashlights with fresh batteries, a battery operated radio, matches, candles, first-aid kit, a manual can opener, water and nonperishable food.

2. Have a cell phone or land-line telephone. Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Program Avista’s customer service number into your phone (1-800-227-9187). You can report and track the status of an outage online at www.avistautilities.com.

3. Find out ahead of time how to manually open and close any electric garage doors, security doors or gates.

4. Identify the most insulated room in your home in advance; that's where you and your family can gather if you need to stay warm.

5. Protect sensitive equipment such as computers, DVD players and televisions by installing surge protectors or other power protection devices. This measure can prevent a sudden surge of electricity from damaging your equipment.

6. Make sure your smoke alarms and CO2 detectors have fresh batteries.

During an outage, you’ll want to be prepared as well. Be sure to:

• Turn off electric appliances as well as lights that were in use when the power went off. This will help prevent power surges when the electricity is restored.

• Avoid heating your home or cooking indoors with an outdoor grill or other items not intended for indoor use. They can create deadly fumes if used inside.

• To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.

• Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.

• Leave one light switch on so you know when your electricity has been restored.

• Assist family members or neighbors who may be vulnerable if exposed to low temperatures for extended periods.

• Once your power is back online, turn on your front porch light. This can help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power.

When outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are active electric lines: Stay away, warn others to stay away, and immediately contact Avista at 1-800-227-9187. If traffic lights are out of service, treat the intersection like a four-way stop.

For more safety tips visit us online.

Click here for a printable list to store in a handy location at your home or on your mobile device.
Published: 11/15/2012  1:56 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 12 , 2012
Monroe Street Dam
Visitors to the area near Monroe Street Dam will see a crane relocating rock, gravel and sediment that
has accumulated at Monroe Street Dam in downtown Spokane.
 
Periodic maintenance of the dam helps ensure safe and efficient hydropower
 
 
This week, Avista has begun removing and relocating rock, gravel and sediment that has accumulated at Monroe Street Dam in downtown Spokane, in accordance with state permits.

Scuba divers at Monroe Street Dam intake gates
After a crane operator dredges the Monroe Street
Dam forebay, we contract with a professional diver
to go down to the base of the dam to remove
accumulated material that the crane can’t get.

Click on the video above to see underwater
footage of an Associated Underwater Services
(AUS) diver removing material from the intake
gate. The footage is courtesy of AUS.
High and extended river flows earlier this spring caused large amounts of rocks, gravel and other materials to accumulate at the dam. When rocks and other materials pile up in front of the dam, they block the intake structure, which lowers our generating capacity. This periodic maintenance of the dam prevents damage to the intake structure and allows us to maintain power production.

Over the next two to three weeks, a crane located near the southern part of the dam will collect the accumulated materials from the forebay, the area immediately upstream of the dam, and then place them back into the river below the dam.

“Public safety and protecting the surrounding environment are Avista’s top priorities as we do this work,” said Speed Fitzhugh, Spokane River license manager for Avista. “Redistributing the materials back into the river will allow them to continue to serve as a potential gravel source for spawning habitat in the lower Spokane River.”

Visitors should keep clear of the crane, which will be fenced in for safety reasons. For your safety, please stay out of the river in this area and keep clear of designated work areas.

About Monroe Street Dam
Avista's first hydroelectric development, Monroe Street Dam has been producing power since 1890 – longer than any other hydroelectric development currently in operation in the state of Washington.

Avista, then Washington Water Power, constructed the dam at a natural waterfall at Spokane's Lower Falls. The dam was rebuilt in 1974, and a new underground powerhouse was built in 1992. Since Monroe Street Dam is a low head concrete gravity dam designed and built to provide aesthetically pleasing flows, it doesn’t have spill gates that allow for rocks and other natural materials to pass through. Since the reconstruction in the 1970s, Avista has periodically removed and relocated natural materials about every two years to ensure the plant is generating power safely and efficiently.
 
After a crane operator dredges the Monroe Street Dam forebay, we contract with a professional diver to go down to the base of the dam to remove accumulated material that the crane can’t get.
 
Click on the video above to see underwater footage of an Associated Underwater Services (AUS) diver removing material from the intake gate. The footage is courtesy of AUS.
 
Published: 9/12/2012  4:35 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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