Providing essential services along the Spokane River

Josh Stringfellow is accustomed to driving to work on nearly empty streets; his 12-hour dayshift begins promptly at 5:45 a.m. However, the last few months have been a little eerie.

“I’m used to seeing a few cars and pedestrians, but the streets have been so empty,” said Josh. “It’s felt more like a zombie apocalypse movie than my commute.”

Despite the lack of traffic, Josh knows that thousands of people in our community are getting through the COVID pandemic one day at a time. And they all need power to do it.

Josh is a journeyman operator at Avista. He works in the generation control center as well as all of the upper Spokane hydroelectric dams and thermal generating plants.

Josh sees public safety as his first priority, which includes monitoring the Spokane River’s flows and levels. He also ensures the generation of safe, efficient and reliable energy by conducting a series of daily inspections at the plants and substations.

“All essential services like hospitals, water treatment plants, grocery stores, etc. require energy to operate,” said Josh. “But as a husband and father of two young girls, I know how significant power is to our family. All of our customers are important.”

When the COVID pandemic unfolded locally, Josh and his coworkers worked in overdrive to implement their response plan. While project work, visits and tours of Avista’s facilities are on hold, the dams still require constant operational attention.

“Our jobs entail very specific skillsets,” Josh explains. “We know our plants inside and out. It’s important that all of us remain healthy so we can continue to do the job safely and efficiently for our customers.”

To ensure the health and safety of employees, Josh’s workday looks a little different right now. Longer hours and modified shifts help to keep crews compartmentalized without sacrificing the necessary services to operate critical functions.

As Josh ensures he remains safe through these times, he wants to take the opportunity to remind our communities to be safe as well.

“As the weather warms up, people will naturally want to go outdoors; it’s one of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest,” said Josh. “If you plan on going on the water, please be mindful of the signs around our hydro facilities; river conditions can change rapidly. We want everyone to enjoy the water safely.”

Josh Stringfellow grew up in Fruitland, WA and has been living in the Spokane area for over a decade. When it’s safe to do so, he looks forward to taking his wife to Clinkerdagger for a much-anticipated prime rib dinner and crème brûlée dessert to thank her for all of her support while he works extra hours.

Please be mindful of the signs around our hydro facilities.

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  1. Safety
  2. Rivers