Spokane Journal of Business

Avista’s energy supply deemed adequate through 2020

Eventually, utility might add natural-gas powered plant

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Avista Corp. projects having adequate generating resources to meet customers’ energy needs through 2020, according to its latest integrated resource plan filed in August with regulators in Washington and Idaho.

The Spokane-based utility submits an IRP every two years detailing projected growth in demand for energy and the new resources needed to serve customers during the next two decades, as required by the Washington and Idaho public utility commissions.

Separately, costs for meeting the state’s renewable energy targets are going down for all three investor-owned electric companies that provide service in Washington. Avista, Pacific Power, and Puget Sound Energy filed reports with the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission detailing their renewable plans and how each utility will supply at least 3 percent of its electric load for 2015, says the UTC.

“Washington’s investor-owned utilities are making investments in clean energy with minimal additional costs to ratepayers,” says UTC chairman David Danner in a written press release. “These filings reinforce the trend that we have been seeing since the Energy Independence Act (EIA) requirements took effect in 2012.”

In 2006, Washington voters approved the EIA requiring qualifying electric utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from eligible renewable resources, including wind, solar and hydro power.

As for Avista’s integrated resource plan, the company expects customer load growth of 0.6 percent, down from the 1 percent projected growth predicted in 2013. Avista says it will continue in its energy efficiency efforts, make upgrades to existing facilities, and tap into new natural gas sources.

“The goal is to develop a 20-year plan that meets customers’ needs for safe, reliable energy while balancing environmental responsibility, energy efficiency, and cost,” says Jason Thackston, Avista’s senior vice president of energy resources in a written press release.

Thackston says the IRP is developed with the help of a technical advisory committee that is made up of customers, environmental organization, business groups, elected officials, utility commission staff and Avista’s energy resource analysts. 

Other listed highlights from the IRP say population and employment growth are starting to recover from the Great Recession. Natural gas-fired plants represent the largest portion of energy potential. The company’s first new power generation will be a natural gas-fired plant, that’s scheduled to come online by the end of 2020 to replace expiring contracts and to serve load growth, the report says.

Energy efficiency gains at established generation plants will address more than half of projected load growth through the 20-year IRP timeframe, the company says.

 Kevin Blocker
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Reporter Kevin Blocker, a University of Colorado alum, is a rec league basketball addict. At age 47, he still sports a 32-inch vertical leap. He has three children, all of whom are hooked on hoops.

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