Commission accepts Avista growth plan
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has accepted Avista Utilities’ 10-year plan to meet load growth. The plan relies on 400 megawatts of wind, 250 MW of coal and 180 MW from other renewable resources by 2016 to meet growing electrical demand.
The commission requires regulated utilities to file an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) every two years. The plan projects future load requirements and how the company plans to deliver low-cost, reliable energy to its customers. The IRP is only a guide and not a commitment to resource acquisition. “It is an ongoing planning process that we acknowledge, not the conclusion or results,” the commission said in its order.
The commission staff, which operates separately from the commission, commended Avista on its commitment to renewable sources, but noted it may be too early to determine where Avista will be able to get its power. “It is important to recognize that new resource additions are not needed for several years. Consequently, the quantity and mix of Avista’s resource selections will likely change in future IRPs as conditions change, fuel prices become more certain and technology advances,” said commission staff in written comments.
Staff also encouraged the company to continue to include transmission planning into its long-range planning process. Cooperation with regional power entities and transmission planning will allow the utility access to more low-cost power across the Northwest, commission staff said.
The Renewable Northwest Project and the Northwest Energy Coalition also filed comments, commending Avista’s plan to rely more on renewable, rather than thermal, resources. The organizations asked that Avista delay any commitments to coal plants until further research into clean-coal technology and emissions sequestration is completed.
Avista projects it will grow to 350,000 customers in its three-state territory by 2007 – up from the current approximate 330,000 – and to 485,000 customers in 2026. There are about 110,000 customers in northern Idaho.
Without adding to its generation, the company would begin to experience energy deficits in 2010.
To meet growth, the company’s preferred resource portfolio by 2016 is a mix of generation sources, including 400 megawatts of wind, 250 MW from coal and another 80 MW from small renewable projects. The company is not proposing any additional natural gas-fired generation due to the high level of natural gas generation already in the company’s portfolio, the rising price of natural gas and the volatility that creates. In accordance with plans outline in its IRP, Avista recently announced it was accepting bids for 35 MW of wind generation.
Resource requirements are 69 MW lower because of planned conservation programs and 52 MW lower because of efficiency upgrades to existing generating plants.
By 2026, the company plans to have added a total of 1,332 MW of new capacity. Of that 650 MW would come from wind, 450 MW from coal, 180 MW from other renewables and 52 MW from efficiency upgrades. Needs would be 138 MW lower due to conservation programs.
The company currently has about 1,663 MW of installed capacity, 979 MW of that coming from hydroelectric projects and 683 MW from thermal sources, primarily natural gas.
Avista is also in the process of implementing a transmission upgrade plan to add more than 100 circuit miles of new 230 kV transmission line and will later increase its capacity another 50 miles. The company is also building two new 230-kV substations and upgrading three existing transmission substations.
A copy of the commission’s order and other documents related to this case are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to Case No. AVU-E-05-08.