Supporting Our Customers and Communities

Avista invests in the communities it serves through corporate and foundation giving. The online Philanthropy Report provides an overview of our giving in 2010. Avista community investments are made through corporate and foundation donations and are not included in customer rates.

The Avista Foundation was formed in 2002 to create a legacy of investment for the communities served by Avista and to serve as the primary charitable vehicle for the company. Corporate donations focus primarily on energy assistance and economic development-related initiatives that benefit our customers and communities.

The Avista Foundation provides funding to non-profit organizations addressing the needs of communities and citizens served by Avista in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, portions of southern and eastern Oregon, as well as Sanders County, Montana.

The foundation focuses its giving on grants that strengthen communities and enhance the quality of lives of the people served by our company. Emphasis is in the areas of:

  • education—supporting K-12 education particularly in the fields of science, math and technology; and higher education including scholarships
  • vulnerable and limited income populations—providing assistance to those on limited incomes and support for initiatives to reduce poverty
  • economic and cultural vitality—supporting projects that help our communities and citizens to grow and prosper

Employee Matching Gifts program

We recognize that our employees give generously of their time, talent and treasure to our communities. The matching gifts program is a tangible way for Avista to support and recognize the “treasures” that employees donate to non-profit organizations. As our employees invest in the community, the company is now able to increase the impact of that investment to those non-profit organizations valued by our employees.

Total Contributions Avista Corp. & Avista Foundation
Total contributions Avista Corp & Avista Foundation 2010 2009
Health & human services $1,431,613 $788,165
Education $336,737 $275,776
Arts & culture $138,874 $126,817
Community vitality $218,292 $116,965
Youth development $112,803 $106,593
Environmental $33,322 $37,460
Total $2,271,642 $1,451,775

Employee volunteerism

In 2010, Avista employees recorded over 44,000 hours of community volunteer service, for more than 900 community organizations.

Programs to improve or maintain access to electricity and customer service

Avista is committed to building sustainable ways to ease the burden of energy costs for customers most in need in a way that enhances goodwill through personalization and caring customer connections.

We offer a number of programs for our customers, including our tariff-funded Low-Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP) in Washington and Oregon; Project Share for emergency assistance to customers—funded through Avista shareholders, employee and community contributions; Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service (CARES); senior energy outreach programs, level pay plans and payment arrangements, and energy efficiency programs.

In 2010, we partnered with non-profits, government agencies and our customers to provide over $17 million in energy assistance grants.

Energy Assistance
Energy assistance 2009-2010 2008-2009 2007-2008 2006-2007
LIRAP grants made* $4.7 million $3.6 million $2.8 million $2.1 million
Project Share grants made* $543,000 $389,000 $364,000 $558,000
Avista contributions to Project Share $400,000 $200,000 $200,000 $200,000
LIHEAP grants made** $9.4 million $13.8 million $7.1 million $7.5 million
* Energy Assistance Program year July 1 - June 30
** Avista is an active partner in advocating for and facilitating the distribution of federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds.

Avista is actively involved in supporting community human services programs that provide tools and resources for individuals and families who face challenges in meeting the basic costs of living, which often includes the cost of energy. Through philanthropic contributions and employee community outreach efforts, including the 2010 Energy Fairs we support programs that help increase financial stability or provide basic resources like food and clothing.

Reducing Energy Burden

We are committed to reducing the burden of energy prices for our customers most affected by rising energy prices, including low income individuals and families, seniors, disabled and vulnerable customers. To increase our customers’ ability to pay, the company focuses on actions and programs in four primary areas: 1) advocacy for and support of energy assistance programs providing direct financial assistance; 2) low income and senior outreach programs; 3) energy efficiency and energy conservation education and 4) support of community programs that increase customers’ ability to pay basic costs of living.

Practices to address language, disability barriers to accessing and safely using electricity and customer services

Through our Customer Contact Center, Avista provides a complimentary language line with quick access to an interpreter 24 hours a day. It works by way of a three-person conference call between our non-English speaking customer, our customer service representative and an interpreter. We can accommodate dozens of languages, including Cambodian, Laotian, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Nature, scope and effectiveness of programs to assess and manage impacts of operations on communities

Avista, along with community low-income, senior and vulnerable citizens’ advocates, has long sought to understand the reach and effectiveness of energy assistance and energy efficiency programs. The challenge has been how to estimate with more certainty the level of need for the purpose of assessing program size and design. Having more definitive data on the type of unmet need could also inform policy discussions related to programs that serve to provide direct grant assistance or programs that reduce energy use, such as energy efficiency or energy conservation education.

In 2009, Avista commissioned a study—“Assessing Heating Assistance Programs in Spokane County”—by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University. The study was initiated out of a long-standing collaboration between Avista and Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) called the Vulnerable Adult Advisory Group. This group was convened in 2002 to help mitigate the impact of increasing energy costs among vulnerable adults, defined as seniors and disabled individuals.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the reach of the two largest heating assistance programs in Spokane County: the federal LIHEAP program and Avista's LIRAP program. The study’s central goals were to: 1) assess the reach of these programs among the eligible low income and senior population in Spokane County, and 2) assess the effectiveness of heating assistance programs in reducing “energy burden” or that percentage of household income spent on energy and to compare that with national trends.

The results of the study showed that an estimated 30 percent of eligible households received energy assistance. This is considerably higher than the national average of 16 percent. The complete study can be read here.

Spending with Local Vendors

Avista is committed to maximizing the value created through timely, efficient, and effective supply chain services delivered to meet the needs of the clients and communities we serve. We are committed to contracting via competitive bidding processes to the maximum extent practical.

2010 spending on locally-based suppliers was $113,717,208 or 35 percent of our total goods and service spending.

We are interested in doing business with and providing opportunities to diverse suppliers capable of providing goods and services that satisfy our requirements at competitive prices.

2010 spending with diversity suppliers was $19,493,855 or 6 percent of the total local spend.

For more information about Avista’s supplier engagement, please click here.