Avista plans future generation from natural gas, wind sources
Avista Utilities, which serves about 115,000 customers in north Idaho, will be looking to natural gas and renewable sources of energy for added generation over the next decade.
Avista recently filed its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. The plan, required every two years by the commission, details how Avista plans to meet the demands of its growing customer base. Avista plans on contracting with a natural gas plant near Rathdrum for 350 megawatts. It also plans on adding 300 megawatts from wind sources, 35 MW from other renewable resources and 87 MW from energy savings due to conservation measures.
Without the additional generation, the company would face generation shortfalls of about 83 average-megawatts in 2011 and 272 aMW by 2017.
Avista decided to drop plans for future coal-fired generation for several reasons including legislation barring its use in the state of Washington where the utility has most of its customers. The company also anticipates federal legislation in the near future that will place further limits on carbon emissions. In response to the anticipated problems with coal-fired generation, the company substituted fixed-price natural gas resources for coal-based resources. According to Avista, it has the eighth-smallest carbon footprint among major U.S. utilities.
The company had hoped for additional wind and other renewable sources beyond the 335 MW already planned. But wind development, the company said, has been hampered by a dramatic increase in the cost of wind resources since 2005. Recent legislation in Oregon, Washington and other states that mandates a certain percentage of generation from renewable sources has increased the demand for wind turbines, reducing their availability and increasing their price.
The additional 87 MW from conservation measures represents an 85 percent increase in conservation since Avista’s 2003 IRP and a 25 percent increase over the 2005 IRP.
The commission is inviting comment from Avista customers and other interested parties on the company’s Integrated Resource Plan. Those wishing to submit comments must do so by no later than Jan. 17, 2008. Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions." Fill in the case number (AVU-E-07-08) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
A copy of the company’s plan, along with other documents related to this case, is available on the commission’s Web site. Click on “File Room” and then on “Electric Cases” and scroll down to the above case number.