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Feb 04 , 2014

Today, Avista filed a request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (commission) to increase rates for electric and natural gas customers in Washington. Avista has not filed a general rate request in Washington since April 2012. If approved, the new rates would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Here are the details about the request:

 

Electric

The filing includes:

·         a request for a 3.8 percent increase in base revenues for capital investments

·         the expiration of two rebates customers are currently receiving that are reducing monthly electric bills by 2.8 percent

·         the proposal of a new rebate that would reduce customer bills by 1.1 percent

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $15

 

These rebates are passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis and do not increase or decrease the company’s earnings.

Bill impact:

The bill impact for a customer using an average of 965 kilowatt hours per month would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $4.89 per month or 6.1 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $84.98

 

Natural Gas

The filing includes:

·         a request for an increase in base revenues of 8.1 percent

·         a request to increase the monthly basic charge from $8 to $12

 

 

Bill impact:

 The bill impact for a customer using an average of 65 therm per months would be, if approved:

·         A total billed increase of $5.23 per month or 8.5 percent

·         A revised monthly bill of $66.42

 

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.

 

The cost of energy and customer rates

 

The main driver in filing the requests is the continuing need to expand and replace the facilities and equipment we use every day to serve you, our customer. We expect capital investments of $335 million in 2014, up from $280 million in 2013. 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 of energy continues to rise, as does the cost to generate and distribute this energy.

 

What does this investment look like?

 

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

 

Post Falls South Channel Dam Project

Beginning spring 2014, Avista will upgrade the 106-year-old South Channel Dam, one of three dams that make up the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development. The project includes:

·         replacing the original concrete on the structure that helps control water levels of  Lake Coeur d’Alene and parts of the three rivers

·         installing new electronic gates and hoists

·         installing new electrical and controls to automate the opening and closing of the spillway gates, increasing efficiencies and reducing cost

 

This work will increase reliability and preserve the life of this important generation resource.

 

 

Nine Mile Powerhouse Project

We are in the midst of a multi-year project to rehabilitate the Nine Mile Powerhouse, also 106-years-old. . The project will replace original generators, turbines and other equipment that will increase the generation of clean, renewable, low-cost power. 

 

 

Customer Information System and Enterprise Asset Management System

Avista’s customer information system is the foundation of Avista’s day-to-day customer operations. For 20 years, the system has been meeting the needs of our customers and the company, but like pipe, wires and equipment, it needs to be replaced. 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.

 

Natural Gas Pipe Replacement

Avista continues a major project to systematically replace portions of natural gas distribution pipe. The project is replacing hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline that was installed prior to 1987.

 

Learn more about the rate-making process here. You can also watch this video and read this one-sheet.

Published: 2/4/2014  12:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 05 , 2013
30 Year Anniversary
 
Posted by Jessie Wuerst
 
Avista is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Kettle Falls Generating Station this month with an open house.  To celebrate, the public is invited to an open house on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 9:00am - 11:00am at the Kettle Falls Generating Station 1151 U.S. Hwy 395 North, Kettle Falls, Wash.
 
Built in 1983, the Kettle Falls plant was the first utility-owned electric generating station of its kind in the U.S. constructed for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste, or biomass.  The award-winning plant, combined with Avista’s legacy hydroelectric power projects, has contributed to Avista being listed among the greenest utilities in the country. The facility produces up to 61 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 46,000 homes.
 
While wood waste is just one of many resources that Avista employs throughout their system, the Kettle Falls facility is special.  It is a model of efficiency and innovation, and Avista’s secret is out.
 
The Association of Washington Business, Power Magazine, the U.S. Forest Service, and the state of Washington are among the many institutions that have recognized Kettle Falls for its contributions to industry and the environment.  With the dedication to environmental stewardship demonstrated by partnerships in the timber industry, Avista produces energy with a resource that is clean and abundant – renewable in the best sense of the word. 
 
With the support of legislators, the community and Avista employees, the Kettle Falls Generating Station is well-positioned to be a part of the region’s clean energy future.
 
Avista is pleased to be celebrating 30 years of the Kettle Falls Generating Station, which supports over 100 jobs, a strong tax base, a healthy economy, and a vibrant community. Avista is grateful for the relationships that have been built over 30 years.  Avista is proud of our history and excited about our future.
 
Published: 8/5/2013  9:42 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 17 , 2013
video here
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Just last week Avista, First Wind and Vestas, along with more than 100 invited guests officially dedicated the first wind farm built in Avista’s service territory – Palouse Wind. The day also marked the celebration of the facility’s 150,000 megawatt hour of energy produced since the farm opened in December 2012.

Watch the video to see the sights and sounds of the event.

On hand to kick off the event was Washington Governor Jay Inslee admired the lush landscape and said, “there’s probably not another place in the world today that’s producing more green electricity, surrounded by greener pea and wheat fields, generating more green economic activity for small rural communities, than right here at Palouse Wind.”

Since the Palouse Wind project went online, it has brought significant long-term tax revenue to Whitman County while generating enough clean energy to power the homes of about 30,000 Avista customers.

As the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County, the 105 MW project features 58 state-of-the-art Vestas V100-1.8 MW turbines installed between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 on the hills surrounding Naff Ridge. During construction the Palouse Wind project pumped more than $25 million of direct spending into the regional economy and created hundreds of construction-related jobs and drove significant revenue for local businesses.

Avista is purchasing the energy produced by the Palouse Wind project under a 30-year power purchase agreement and is taking delivery of the power through a direct interconnection to Avista’s 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line. This is the first wind project built in Avista’s service territory and it is helping Avista achieve its goal of providing reliable energy to its customers at a reasonable cost, while helping meet Washington state renewable portfolio standards, now and into the future.

Published: 7/17/2013  10:09 AM | 1  Comment | 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

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

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