Powering 5 decades of progress in Spokane

Imagine life without the internet. Smartphones. GPS. Drones. We love our technology; it’s fun, entertaining and helpful. But nearly 50 years ago, life in Spokane was moving at a much different pace.

In 1972, Atari’s Pong was released and changed the video game industry forever. That same year, Spokane’s Westside Substation was built. Since then, Spokane County’s population has grown 86%. And even with advancements in energy efficiency, the average household uses 13 times more energy today than it did in the ‘70s.

That’s not too surprising if we consider the leaps technology has made over the past few decades.

It’s been over 40 years since the first home computer powered up in Spokane. Nintendo introduced us to Mario and Luigi 35 years ago. Email became popular in the mid-90s. In 2000, only 50% of us had home computers or access to the internet, but today, 80% of us carry smartphones in our pockets.

We are currently seeing more electric vehicles on the road than ever before. Bitcoin mining is a real thing. 5G networks are sprouting. What exciting invention is coming next?

To keep up with our changing world, Avista is making some upgrades to our infrastructure. One very important project is rebuilding the Westside Substation.

If you live near Spokane, the Westside Substation has likely had a hand in powering your life. Substations reduce high voltage electricity from our transmission systems to the lower voltage electricity that is distributed to your home and local businesses. Substations improve reliability and reduce the cost of supplying your power.

The multi-year rebuild project began in 2018 and is expected to continue through 2024. Through a phased approach, we are updating one of our largest substations without disrupting service. It is estimated to cost $25 million to complete. The result will be increased energy capacity and even better system reliability.

So, whether you are an avid PlayStation 4 gamer, Youtube vlogger, Facebook junkie, TikTok creator, Netflix binger or anyone between, Avista is committed to providing you with safe and reliable energy far into the future.

Does this project have anything to do with my rates?

This project is an example of the ongoing investments we make in our infrastructure to serve our customers. This kind investment is an example of your rate dollars in action.

Your rates cover two types of costs:

  1. The cost of generating or purchasing energy
  2. The cost of delivering that energy to you

But Avista doesn’t raise your rates whenever we want. In fact, we can’t. As a regulated utility, we must first put together a case that demonstrates why the rates we collect are not enough to cover the costs of providing you with your energy. We must also demonstrate why the projects we take on, like the Westside Substation, are necessary. This is a very detailed and public process known as a rate case.

Avista’s rates can only change with approval from state public utility commissions.

Want to learn more? Watch this 2-minute video that describes the process.

Watch video


  1. Electric