Taking Care

Direct economic value generated and distributed, including donations and community investments

Supporting our communities

Avista invests in the communities it serves through corporate and foundation giving. 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 community. 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
Dollars Percent of total
Health & Human Services $788,165 54%
Education $275,776 19%
Arts & Culture $126,817 9%
Economic Development $116,965 8%
Youth Development $106,593 7%
Environmental $37,460 3%
Total $1,451,775 100%

Employee volunteerism

In 2009, 35 percent of Avista employees recorded their community volunteer service, totaling over 44,000 hours, 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; Project Share for emergency assistance to customers -- funded through Avista, 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 2009, we partnered with non-profits, government agencies and our customers to provide over $17 million in energy assistance grants.

Energy Assistance
2008-2009* 2007-2008** 2006-2007**
LIRAP grants made $3.6 million $2.8 million $2.1 million
Project Share grants made $389,000 $364,000 $558,000
LIHEAP***grants made $13.8 million $7.1 million $7.5 million

* The heating season grants were made from May 1, 2008 – June 30, 2009.

** he heating season grants were made from May 1, 2007 – April 30, 2008 and May 1, 2006 – April 30, 2007.

*** 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, we support programs that help increase financial stability or provide basic resources like food and clothing.

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.

Percentage of population unserved in service areas.

The opportunity for service is available by law to all who request it within the areas Avista serves in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

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.

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.

Public Policy positions and participation in policy development and lobbying

Avista actively participates in local, state and national legislative and governmental practices. We work with others to develop trusting and credible relationships with elected office holders who determine public policy affecting our company. It is appropriate and responsible for the company, through shareholder dollars and the employee-funded political action committee) to be supportive of those individuals through political contributions as one part of a comprehensive government relations program.

Development and impact of infrastructure investments for public benefit

North Central Idaho Telecommunications Consortium: Avista is involved in this regional consortium which is an effort to support and develop broadband and wireless technology and infrastructure to the 10 counties of north central Idaho. Avista has provided support for the partnership through the USDA Rural Utility Service and membership in the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON).