Spokane Journal of Business

Avista Corp. foresees adequate natural gas supply

Latest 20-year forecast shows company on track

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Avista Corp., the Spokane-based power company, has filed its latest natural gas integrated resource plan (IRP) with regulators in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, in which the company predicts sufficient natural gas resources for the next 20 years. 

Jason Thackston, senior vice president of energy resources for Avista, says the IRP is submitted every two years as part of Avista’s long-term planning process and regulatory commitments. 

“We’re looking out 20 years and projecting the consumption patterns that our customers have had, and projecting some scenarios in terms of a favorable, or not, economy,” Thackston says. 

He adds, “Then we compare that to available resources, or what we’ve contracted, and see if we have enough. If we don’t have enough, we have a plan in place to address how we intend to cover that gap.” 

In the latest natural gas IRP, the company states that it shouldn’t need to acquire additional natural gas pipeline resources before 2034. 

Although its natural-gas resources appear to be on track for the next 20 years, in its Washington and Idaho 2013 electric IRP, Avista predicted that it will need to procure a new resource, possibly a natural gas generator, Thackston says. 

“We project that by the end of this decade, we will need to buy or build or procure a new resource to serve the growing need of our customers,” he says.

Forming the plans takes about 20 months, Thackston says, and involves a number of meetings. At those meetings, Avista’s analysts and a technical advisory committee, which is made up of public utility commission staff, peer natural gas utilities, and customers, discuss factors that can affect the price and demand of natural gas, Thackston says.

“We cover topics like the economy, and how to factor the economy into the forecast, commodity prices, and some of the variables that might impact prices going up or down,” he says. “Also, the supply of natural gas domestically and new potential uses in natural gas that might create an increase in demand for natural gas (are discussed).”

Any new state regulations or laws that pertain to natural gas also are brought up, Thackston says. 

“We spend quite a bit of time in those technical advisory committee meetings talking about energy efficiency, and how that impacts the growth forecast,” he says. 

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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