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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

Jul 01 , 2013
Picture collage of Hoopfest 2013
 
Posted by Scott Steele
 
Avista plays a major part in the communities we serve. And when a community event such as Hoopfest is right in our backyard, we want to be a part of it.
 
Hoopfest in Spokane is the largest outdoor 3 on 3 basketball tournament in the world with more than 200,000 fans, 28,000 players on 7,000 teams, and 3,000 volunteers squeezed into 40 downtown city blocks. With all these teams and players, keeping track of where and what time their games are can be a daunting task. That’s where Avista comes in.
 
As a sponsor of the Avista Master Scoreboard, Avista provides a 40-person volunteer crew who puts in 550 hours each year to build and run a makeshift outdoor IT department.
 
Employees work tirelessly to ensure the Ethernet network is running properly so scores and brackets are updated in real-time. In all, Avista supplies and lays more than 1,000 feet of Ethernet, 300 feet of fiber optic cable and 250 feet of telephone line to connect 20 computers in 15 locations across downtown Spokane.
 
Avista also keeps players and spectators connected during the tournament with free phone charging stations. These stations can charge up to 12 phones at one time and the Hoopfest attendees put them to the test this year. “Cool”, “Great idea”, and “I really needed to use this, my phone was almost dead,”, are just a few of the accolades overheard by users of the charging stations.
 
The Hoopfest Social Media ambassadors used the stations throughout the weekend to keep their phones charged as they Tweeted and used Facebook to send out updates. They were captured here in a video. KXLY News 4 (ABC) in Spokane also highlighted Avista’s volunteer efforts in a news story leading up to the event.
 
So, when we say we’re active participants in the communities we serve, we’re really saying that we were wired into everything that was going on this weekend in Spokane’s premier sporting event...and it was fun!
Published: 7/1/2013  12:35 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jan 24 , 2013
 

Sealing of ductwork for heating and cooling systems could reduce energy costs by up to 30 percent.
 
Most times if something seems too good to be true, it is. But with Avista’s new Manufactured Home Duct Sealing Program, qualifying customers in Washington can have their home’s ductwork sealed and receive other energy efficiency products at no cost. The service, a $500 value, can help customers save up to 30 percent on their energy bill. The program is scheduled to run through the end of June 2013.
 

To qualify for the free Manufactured Home Duct Sealing Program, a resident must be an Avista electric or natural gas customer in Washington living in a manufactured home that:

- is heated primarily by a forced air furnace
has ductwork outside the heated space (in attic or crawl space)

- is the customer’s year-round residence, not a vacation home; and

- the customer owns or has permission from their landlord to participate in the program

Avista has teamed up with UCONS, LLC to administer the program and perform the sealing work. As part of the service to Avista customers, UCONS will also install compact fluorescent light bulbs and leave customers with a free standard air filter replacement and efficient, high-performance showerhead.
 
UCONS representatives will be going door-to-door to manufactured homes with information to discuss the free service with Avista’s Washington customers. Residents can easily identify UCONS representatives by their Avista safety vests and identification. Qualifying customers can also call UCONS, LLC at 800-657-0135 to schedule a visit or for more information.
 
 
Published: 1/24/2013  4:33 PM | 1  Comment | 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

Jan 15 , 2013
Red Oak
Sugar Maple
This year's trees are Red Oak (top) and
Sugar Maple (bottom).
Post by Debbie Simock
 
If you live in Spokane County, you’re probably more concerned with shoveling snow right now than thinking about summer shade. But acting now could help you start saving on your summer energy bill.

We’ve teamed with the Spokane Conservation District (SCD) to again provide free shade trees to Avista electric customers living in Spokane County to help them reduce energy use and cost. A well-planned landscape, including strategically place shade trees, can reduce an unshaded home’s summer air conditioning costs.

Here are a couple of things you need to know about the program:
 
• The homeowner must be an Avista electric customer.
• There must be space for a large tree on the west or southwest side of the house - the sides that take the most sun and heat gain. Depending on the type of tree, it needs between 15 to 30 feet to prevent problems.
• The property must be your full-time home - recreational or seasonal homes are not eligible.

Applying to the program is easy, just fill out a registration form and fax it to the SCD office at 509-535-7410 or mail it to Spokane Conservation District, 210 N. Havana St., Spokane, WA 99202. A SCD representative will contact you and visit your property to determine if there is enough space for a shade tree. If so, the best location for it will be marked and the tree will be planted for you on a later visit.

The program only plants 50 trees per season (50 in spring and 50 in autumn), so apply soon to secure a spot. If you don’t make it into the spring planting, try again for the fall one.

If you have any questions about the Avista Shade Tree Program, please contact SCD’s Garth Davis at 535-7274, ext.212.
 
Published: 1/15/2013  11:11 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 26 , 2012
Project Share
Households that are having trouble paying their heating bills this winter will receive help as the result of $226,000 in donations Avista and our employees made to Project Share (see news release). An additional $100,000 is going to 19 human care service organizations in eastern Washington chosen by our CAREs representatives (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service).
 
“We know that the economy of our service territory continues to be depressed and that it is difficult for families to make ends meet. The organizations receiving these Project Share and CARES donations are an important safety net, and they provide important assistance that helps those most in need meet the costs of housing, food and medicine, and keeping their homes warm this winter,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp.
Project Share will receive $226,000 from Avista and its employees. The program, which is administered by SNAP in eastern Washington and by community action programs in other areas of our service territory, provides emergency grants to help families meet energy costs regardless of the fuel used to heat their home. In 2011, more than 2,100 households received emergency energy assistance through Project Share. The funds for this donation come from company profits and employee donations and are not included as a cost to customers in developing rates.

“This donation is another amazing example of Avista taking the initiative to support our neighbors during difficult times,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “We greatly value this collaborative effort that continues to be a vital benefit to our community. More homes will stay warm throughout the winter because of this.”
 
Additionally, Avista is partnering with 19 community service agencies in eastern Washington to make grants for energy assistance to qualifying Avista customers in need this winter.

Avista has contributed a total of $100,000 to the agencies for customers who have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources. The organizations were identified by Avista’s CARES representatives, who are specially trained and who work closest with our most vulnerable customers.
The funds for the CARES donations come from a state utility tax credit Avista receives that is associated with our low-income energy assistance programs.
 
Published: 12/26/2012  10:35 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 19 , 2012
Palouse Wind Project
 
Avista can now count the renewable energy generated at Palouse Wind among the resources we use to meet our customers’ energy needs. Now in full commercial operations, the Palouse Wind project in Rosalia, Wash., is officially the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County and is expected to contribute to the local economy for years to come.

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, Avista and First Wind announced successful completion of construction of the project. Read our news release.

The 105 megawatt (MW) project will be included in Avista’s diverse resource portfolio and will have the capacity to generate enough renewable wind energy to power the equivalent of approximately 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes. This is the first wind project built in our service territory.

The project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines installed at the project site situated between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction, the Palouse Wind project infused more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of jobs.
Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and will take delivery of the power through a direct interconnect to our 230 kilovolt (kV) Benewah-to-Shawnee transmission line. 

Palouse Wind helps us achieve our goal of meeting customers’ energy needs reliably and responsibly, while continuing our legacy of renewable energy. It’s good for our customers and communities to have the project right in our backyard and helps us keep our customers’ rates at some of the lowest in the country.

In addition, now that Palouse Wind is fully operational, Whitman County will receive approximately $12 million over the next 20 years in property tax revenues, which can be used to lower tax rates, improve schools, maintain roads and enhance local services.
Published: 12/19/2012  2:13 PM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

Dec 17 , 2012
$28,150 donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon
 

Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank last fall.
Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank
last fall. .
For some residents of the Pacific Northwest, feeding their families can be one of the biggest challenges they face each month. Forty-seven food banks in Avista’s service territory will have a bit more money to stock their shelves in the months ahead as the result of grants issued by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation. A total of $28,150 has been donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation.
 
“Community food banks are providing vital safety-net services in the communities we serve. Through their buying power and relationships with food producers, the food banks are able to leverage donations like ours to bring several times their value to help stock the shelves for those in need,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp. “Helping limited income families and seniors meet their nutritional needs is an important part of our emphasis on providing assistance to reduce poverty in the communities served by Avista Utilities.”

In addition, Avista employees donated $8,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank during “Tom’s Turkey Drive,” a Thanksgiving event sponsored by KREM television. Avista Foundation matched that amount, for a total donation to Second Harvest of $16,000.

Funding for donations, other than employee gifts, comes from foundation funds and company profits. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.
 
Published: 12/17/2012  2:35 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 10 , 2012
Avista truck in Clarkston parade
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Avista has long been a part of Clarkston’s annual Lighted Christmas Parade and this year was no different. An Avista line truck – used by our electric crews – appeared in the parade and was adorned with many, many light strands that certainly made for a festive feeling.

Several employees’ children or grandchildren volunteered to hand out candy along the route alongside the truck. Special thanks to the kids: Anna Duman, Eli Duman, Cam Knight and Sean Sharpes.

Happy holidays!
Published: 12/10/2012  11:19 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 06 , 2012

Winner icon
Avista Utilities was recently honored with a special recognition award from the judges of the Green Washington Awards, sponsored by Seattle Business magazine. Avista was also named to the list of the 50 greenest companies in the state of Washington.

Making the special award, magazine executive editor Leslie Helm said, “Avista, which has been providing power to much of eastern Washington and northwest Idaho since 1889, prides itself on its history of clean power generation. And it takes sustainability seriously, ranking as the nation’s third lowest emitter of CO2 (in pounds per megawatt hour) amongst investor-owned utilities. It’s known for being a proponent of renewable energy ... and the company has long championed the use of wind power. Avista is also renowned for building the nation’s first biomass-fueled power generation plant.”

Accepting the award on behalf of Avista, President Dennis Vermillion said, “We are very pleased to be recognized in the Green Washington Awards and to be among the top sustainability performers in Washington. Our employees are some of the brightest and most talented of any company I know.

“For us, doing business responsibly means doing it in ways that have the least impact on the environment and the most positive impact on our customers and communities. This kind of shared value is the backbone of our company.”
 
Published: 11/6/2012  10:42 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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