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Posts tagged: Avista

Cda power outages

COEUR d'ALENE - More than 2,000 people in the downtown Coeur d'Alene area experienced power outages for a bit more than an hour Saturday afternoon when windy conditions caused trees to blow into power lines.

Avista Utilities spokesperson Laurine Jue said an interrupted “feeder,” a major electrical distribution line, was the source of the high volume of outages.

“An entire feeder was affected,” she said. “When a feeder goes out, it certainly affects a significant number of customers.”

Climatologist Cliff Harris recorded a wind gust of 47 mph at 10:38 a.m. Saturday.Read more. Devin Heilman, Cda Press

Anyone affected by Saturdays power outages?

Idaho/WA combat metal thieves

Avista linemen Mitch Colvin, left, and Bill Shaffer worked with a crew to install a replacement pole in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday. Included in all replacement poles is a metal guard to deter the theft of copper wiring.

BOISE – Metal thieves who steal from electrical substations and other utility installations in Idaho now face stiffer penalties, particularly if their pilfering interrupts service.

And if the thieves are injured in the act, utilities now enjoy immunity from legal liability.

It’s part of an overall crackdown on metal theft that also includes new requirements that scrap dealers photograph those who sell them metal and gather other information that authorities could later use to identify them, if necessary.

Have you ever been the victim of any kind of theft? What was taken and from where?

Clark: Avista Keeps Wanting More

The Spokesman-Review’s most oft-repeated headline reappeared the other day on our Business page. “Avista seeks hike in rates.” This time it’s our North Idaho friends who are getting the treatment. But it doesn’t matter where you live in this great Ingrown Empire. Avista love is spread around pretty much equally. In fact, in the last 100 or so years, a small forest has been chopped down just to make the newsprint needed to carry this headline and variations like it, including … “Soaring Avista rates beat Rover to Mars.” And … “Avista CEO salary hits new record; any guesses who’s gonna pay?” No research has been done to calculate how many gallons of ink have gone into printing these rate hike headlines/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Are you as tired of Avista rate hikes and rate-hike requests as columnist Clark?

Is Avista Asking For Too Much?

Avista Corp. is asking too much of its customers in its latest push to raise rates 6.3 percent for electricity and 6.9 percent for natural gas, the Washington Attorney General’s Office and the state Utilities and Transportation Commission’s staff said Wednesday. The Spokane-based utility proposes the higher rates to raise an additional $40.9 million from electric customers and another $10.1 million from natural gas customers in Eastern Washington. Avista’s request is “an unjustified burden on customers” so soon after the utility raised rates at the start of this year and after a decade of nearly annual rate increases, said Senior Assistant Attorney General Simon ffitch. “Unfortunately it’s a revolving door from the consumer perspective,” ffitch said Wednesday. “I think customers are worn out, they’re frustrated, they’ve given and they’ve given and they’ve given again, and they’re tapped out in terms of ability to pay these rate increases, which just keep on coming”/Scott Maben, SR. More here. (Wikipedia photo of Avista symbol)

Question: Do you think of “greedy” when you think of Avista?

Avista Targets Keough, Eskridge

Avista Corp. is spending thousands of dollars trying to unseat two longtime North Idaho legislators, throwing its support behind tea party-backed challengers in next week’s Republican primary. Being targeted is state Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, who supported unsuccessful efforts to establish a consumer advocate to review utility rate requests, and state Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, who advocates greater diversity in Idaho’s energy supply. Avista opposed both proposals. Campaign finance reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State show Avista has given each incumbent’s challenger $1,000 and has given $15,000 to three political action committees that are funneling money back to the challengers, Danielle Ahrens and Pam Stout. The PACS are also sponsoring independent mailers and advertisements critical of Keough and Eskridge/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you think Avista should be in the business of trying to defeat state Sen. Shawn Keough and state Rep. George Eskridge in favor of Tea Party candidates?

Avista CEO Morris Gets $250K More

Avista Corp. CEO Scott Morris’ total compensation increased by $250,000 last year, to $3.5 million, due in large part to the company’s improved financial performance, Avista said in a detailed report to Washington state regulators. Of the $9.5 million paid to all company officers, about 42 percent came from customers’ rate payments in its three-state service area, Avista said in the report. That last figure was required by order of the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission. Washington customers, which represent Avista’s largest service territory, pay $2.4 million of the company officers’ $9.5 million in compensation through their rates. Idaho customers pay $1.2 million and Oregon customers pay about $560,000/SR. More here. (SR file photo of Scott Morris)


Copper Wire Thief Lucky Not Killed

The thief or thieves who stole 25 feet of copper wire from a fenced, locked substation on Huetter Road Monday morning were lucky they weren't allocated, according to a Coeur d'Alene police report. The thief may have been spooked when a ground wire burnt through as a result of the short-circuiting caused by the missing wire, according to Avista crews. Avista crew members speculate the theft occurred between 1 and 2 a.m. because the system became unstable at that time. The theft knocked out power to about 5600 Avista customer as well as to traffic lights on Highway 95, Northwest/Ramsey, and Atlas Road. Investigating officer found copper wire cut away in at least eight areas, some cleanly and some ragged, indicating the thief didn't have proper equipment. Avista has yet to make a damage estimate but repair workers speculated replacement costs in the thousands of dollars. The substation was enclosed by high, chain-link fence, topped by barbed-wire strands. Complete KCSD report here.

Crooks Turned Out Lights To 6000

Item: Theft causes power outage: Avista blames stolen copper, equipment failure/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Roughly 6,000 were without power Monday morning across Kootenai County and part of Spokane, when theft at an Avista Utilities substation led to two stations being off line. Avista crews discovered early Monday that copper wiring had been clipped from equipment in a dozen places at the substation at Prairie Avenue and Huetter Road, which resulted in power operating at lower levels. The utility decided to take the station off line and transfer customers to the Appleway substation, where other pieces of equipment failed in the process.

Question: Dan Kolbet of Avista described this theft as an act of brazen stupidity because it endangered the lives of the crooks, as well as Avista customers. Do you agree/disagree?

Avista Moves Chilco-Athol Gas Line

An Avista construction worker is helping move six miles of natural gas pipeline as part of the Highway 95 reconstruction from Chilco to Athol. Dan Kolbet shot this photo about a half mile south of Silverwood. You can see a slide show of the project by clicking on the story link below.
If you’ve traveled along Highway 95 in North Idaho by Silverwood recently, you may have seen Avista natural gas crews working alongside the busy highway. We wanted to let you know what they are up to. Our crews are relocating and increasing capacity for six miles of natural gas pipeline to accommodate a newly constructed highway. The Idaho Department of Transportation is reconstructing a portion of Highway 95 from approximately Chilco to Athol.  The highway will expand from two to four lanes, which is great for safety and traffic, but means Avista’s existing 3-inch natural gas pipeline needs to move to a new right-of-way on the east side of the road. Avista is expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 3 to 6 inches too/Dan Kolbet, Avista news release. More here.
Question: How often do you travel the Chilco-to-Athol stretch of Highway 95? Any near accidents?

Avista Shuts PF Dam Gates At Last

Avista has lifted its recreation closure on the Spokane River at Post Falls. With runoff subsiding, the utility has closed the gates on Post Falls Dam, which allows recreational use to resume in the water between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boat restraining systems just upstream of the dam. The City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public on Monday, weeks later than normal. Typically, the boat launch is opened sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, Avista officials said. The median date for closing the gates is June 22/Rich Landers, Outdoors. More here.

Question: Do you recreate at Q'emiln Park? And/or: Can you pronounce Q'emiln?

Avista Named Top Utility Social Media

Via email, Avista's Dan Kolbet writes: “Avista was just named the top utility in social media by our utility peers through a survey conducted by E Source, an energy analysis and research firm. Part of that recognition speaks to our commitment to have the sometimes hairy discussions about energy and the industry on your blog and S-R/other media comments. Our social media program was built on the model that says an authentic voice is the most effective way to engage with our customers. This channel is successful because we’ve committed to it as a complement to all of the other efforts employees take part in daily.” You can read Dan's entire blog post here. (SR file photo)

Question: Do you appreciate Avista's commitment to be involved in the social media? Should other utilities & major corporation follow the model “that says an authentic voice is the most effective way to engage customers”?

SR Columns: Alookin’ For A Home

Times are hard for ospreys, too. Bad luck and bad housekeeping left a feathered couple homeless in Post Falls a few weeks ago. Originally, according to Terry Harris of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, the two ospreys nested comfortably on an abandoned piling in the Spokane River. But that piling was removed along with many others on the river. Next, they set up house in a nest box on an Avista power pole above busy Spokane Street in Post Falls. Alas, Mr. & Mrs. Osprey constructed their nest so well it held water, causing power lines to arc not once but twice. The pole caught fire and snapped in half the second time, leaving the birds of prey homeless/DFO, SR Huckleberries. (See rest of the story, column here)

Which bird of prey impresses you most — eagle or osprey?

HMO: Avista Should Open Dam Gates

HMOffsuite: I surely don’t want to belabor the point, but Avista best get those gates open at the Post Falls dam and empty the lake some, or flooding will be severe this year. They were negligent a few years ago, imo, in not anticipating the runoff and flooding was major. With huge accumulations of snow in the mountains still occurring and virtually no melt, the recipe is for big time grief. The water in the lake is like money in the bank to them but I think their civic duty should prevail. If Avista Dan is around, I hope they get the message. This record rainfall will do nothing but make the potential problem more likely.

Question: Does anyone have any information on how Avista is anticipating the potential flooding and/or what they intend to do about it?

Avista Fined For Assistance Snafu

State regulators fined Avista Corp. more than $60,000 for improper handling of customer accounts. Most of the violations were related to errors in how energy-assistance dollars were credited to low-income families. Avista was putting the money toward customers’ old past-due bills, instead of crediting it toward current and upcoming payments. “That money is intended to keep the heat and the lights on right now,” said Sharon Wallace, assistant director for consumer protection at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. “What happened was that the company applied the money … to old balances.” That put some customers at immediate risk of having their power shut off, she said/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (SR file photo: Protesters demonstrate against high power bills last February)

Question: Do you think Avista’s mishandling of energy-assistance dollars was intentional?

Avista Dan: Do It Right The 1st Time

Now, I don’t care what anyone tells you – parent/teacher conferences are as much about evaluating your parenting skills as it is about how well your kid is really doing in the classroom. No worries – my daughter is doing great (little sigh of relief!) Her teacher said something that really stuck with me. The skills she’s learning today builds a foundation for future learning. If she doesn’t get it the first time around – it will be a lot harder to catch up later. It occurred to me as a walked through 3 inches of snow in the school parking lot that what my daughter’s teacher said would be true of shoveling a path to your utility meter too. If you don’t shovel it when it first snows – it’s going to be really hard to catch up the next time it snows … and again and again. Ice could build up or snow could become compact and stay there all winter long/Dan Kolbet, Avista spokesman. More here. (In this 2009 SR file photo, an Avista worker struggles to read a snowed-in meter)

Question: Do you agree with Dan — that doing something right the first time, and teaching kids the proper way to do things, prevents problems down the road?

Happy Customers Rank Avista Highly

Avista has earned the highest ranking in satisfaction among residential natural gas customers in the midsize natural gas utilities segment of the West region, according to the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today. Avista’s score of 654 placed the utility highest in the segment, tied with Boise-based Intermountain Gas Company. The segment average score on this study was 629. In its ninth year, the study surveys customer satisfaction across a number of factors, including billing and payment, price, corporate citizenship, communications, customer service and field service.

Question: Beyond the rates, which everyone wishes were lower, are you satisfied with Avista service?

Press: Avista Hike? Just Say No

Avista Utilities and its leader, CEO Scott Morris, deserve a lot of credit for turning around a company that was faltering just a few years ago. They’ve invested intelligently in infrastructure and cautiously in future energy generation modes. And they’ve provided good service at generally fair rates to their North Idaho customers. We’re puzzled and disappointed, though, that our region’s dominant utility company is seeking absurdly high rate increases: 14 percent for electric and 3.6 percent for natural gas/Mike Patrick, Coeur d’Alene Press. More here.

Question: Have you ever spoken out against a utility rate increase?

HBO Poll: Avista Too Heavy-Handed

  • Thursday Poll: 97 of 174 respondents (56%) said Avista too quick and too hard-nosed when it comes to shutting off power to customers behind in payments (a question asked after John Hough of The Roosevelt Inn threatened a utility worker who tried to turn off his power Wednesday). 35 of 174 respondents (35%) voted that Avista reacts properly in such situation. 16 of 174 (9%) were undecided.
  • Today’s Poll: What do you make of Sarah Palin’s swipes at the ‘lamestream media’ during her speech at the Ward rally?

Hough Talks About Gun Episode

“It’s people like you who cause people like me to snap, get a gun and go into an office like yours and just waste a bunch of your asses.” That was what John Hough, owner of the Roosevelt Inn Bed and Breakfast, said he told Avista Corp. over the phone on Wednesday, which led to the power company calling police. Police handcuffed Hough and took him to Kootenai Health for psychiatric evaluation. Hough also told the serviceman there to cut off his power that the visitor had a choice. “You can shut off the power and suffer the consequences,” Hough said he told the man, “or you can take my request and depart my property”/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press. More here.

  • Tina Hough, owner The Roosevelt Inn Bed and Breakfast in Coeur d’Alene talked to a member of the Coeur d’Alene Police after her husband John Hough had a dispute with Avista about payment for an overdue bill. (Kathy Plonka photo)

Question: Did John Hough help his cause by making the comments re: going postal in this article?

AM: Outrage Over Bill Crosses Line

John Hough, owner of The Roosevelt Inn Bed and Breakfast in Coeur d’Alene is taken into protective custody by the Coeur d’Alene Police on Wednesday, after he allegedly had a dispute with Avista about payment for an overdue bill. Alison Boggs’s SR story here. And: Tom Hasslinger’s CdA Press story here. (Kathy Plonka/SR)

Question: Percentagewise, how much blame for the angry incident at The Roosevelt Inn do you place on innkeeper John Hough and how much on Avista’s power-shutoff approach?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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