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Doug Clark: Avista energy report card spurs new goal

I’d like to thank the Academy, plus all the “little people” who made this honor possible.

No, I’m not talking about the Oscars – that’s so last Sunday night.

I’m talking about a gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and …

My Avista home energy report card.

The Clark family has received endless joy from these judgmental notices that compare how much juice I consume with that of my energy-using neighbors.

But never in my wildest imaginings did I dare to dream that a “perfect” score could one day be within my grasp.

Then my latest two-month comparison showed up over the weekend. Holy kilowatts, my opportunity is right there in black, green, gray and white.

According to Avista, I am now 92 out of 100 nearby ratepayers with similar-size abodes in energy efficiency. As in, scraping the barrel’s bottom.

Avista Corp. is right. Seeing this data in such a raw and uncompromising form has incentivized me to do better.

Dub me deluded, but I believe I can make up those eight spots and get ALL THE WAY TO 100!!

And why not?

If we can con our school kids into thinking that they can be anything they want to be – NBA star, Hollywood actor, billionaire presidential candidate – why can’t I reach for the stars, too?

I realize, of course, that this is not the direction that Avista claims it wants me to go.

But let’s face it. There’s no way I’m ever going to be Avista’s No. 1 most-efficient power user.

“You used 54 percent more electricity than your neighbors,” stated my recent report card.

“… Your rank is declining.”


I’ll be honest. I don’t know how I made it to 92, although the tattle sheet shows a near-steady decline: 80, 83, 89, 90, 86 and 92.

That 86 rank was for last December. Sorry. I have no explanation for that or any other month.

Like most Spokane-area residents, there are far too many great shows on TV for me to pay attention to paperwork.

In fact, I consider these energy report cards to be a complete waste of energy, especially when Avista is asking for rate hikes in gas and electricity to help cover last fall’s big windstorm.

But being so close to the century mark, I believe that with a tiny bit of commitment I can make it all the way.

“Just leave your front door open,” a close friend advised. “You’ll hit 100 in no time.”

True. But as with everything else, I’m not willing to sacrifice my comfort.

The path to 100 won’t come by opening windows and doors. The obvious strategy can be summed up in two words:

Space heaters.

Few mechanical devices drain electricity like a space heater. If I can get one or two more going, it should be enough to take me all the way.

Don’t worry. I won’t forget to leave a few more lights on, too.

I’m not crazy, after all.

Speaking of which, I never understood Avista’s methodology.

The company is in the power-peddling business, right?

In light of that, you’d think Avista CEO Scott Morris would cherish consumers like me.

MORRIS – “Thanks for coming, everyone. Today we’re going to take a moment to present our Flame of the Year award to Doug Clark.”

ME – Scott, buddy. I’m so down with this. Really. I’m getting chills.

MORRIS – “You can see by our chart here that Mr. Clark’s recent electricity use is the equivalent of a Grand Coulee Dam. So, on behalf of every Avista employee, let me say thanks.”

But noooo. Instead, the power company mails me guilt-trip report cards and treats me like an unwanted goblin child.

Well, I won’t be deterred. I’m aiming for that big 100 and a report that tells me that my rank “has flat-lined.”

Thanks, Avista. It’s great to have a goal.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

Tags: avisa, energy