Member Spotlight: Avista Utilities

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In 1889, Washington Water Power Company (WWP) – now known as Avista – was formed by a group of ten pioneering Spokane industrialists and businessmen who believed the power of the river could provide the electricity needed by the homes and businesses of the 20,000 residents of Spokane Falls – and they decided they would build it themselves. The company began eight months before Washington Territory became a state.

Today, Avista is involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy. The company provides energy services and electricity to 382,000 customers and natural gas to 347,000 customers in a service territory that covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon. Their dedication is evident in the 129 years Avista has brought power to the Pacific Northwest.

Avista’s Kettle Falls Generating Station was the first electric generating station of its kind constructed within the United States for the sole purpose of producing electricity from wood waste. Avista had the foresight to build a plant that took advantage of the area’s natural, renewable resources well before green renewable energy legislation was commonplace. The Kettle Falls biomass fuel generating plant began operating in October 1983. Noted at the plant dedication: “Today is not a choice between conservation, coal, nuclear, renewable, or all forms of generation – but rather it’s the need to use all of them when practical. If we fail to plan and build today, tomorrow could be too late.”

Some interesting facts about the Kettle Falls Generating Station:

• Thirty employees keep the station running.
• Approximately 25 suppliers bring in the residual fiber to be turned into electricity.
• Many more ancillary positions subsist in the region to support the plant and the use of forest products for energy.
• Annual biomass consumption of over 250 TBDT (thousand bone dry tons) is instrumental in power creation.
• Each year, the plant generates over 315,000 MWH (megawatt hours). That is enough to power 46,000 homes.

Aerial Photo of Avista’s Kettle Falls Generating Station. Spring 2018

For over two decades, Avista has been active with FRA in the West. Currently, Greg Frohn (Thermal Fuels Manager) is a member of the Policy Committee and Meeting Planning Committee. He recently served as the Environmental/Biomass/Forestry Subcommittee Chair.
Vickie Swanton | Western Region Manager

Vickie serves as the region manager for the Pacific Northwest