Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. AVU-E-11-04, Order No. 32377

November 23, 2011

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712



Avista plans to add gas, wind generation in next 20 years 


To meet an expected 1.6 percent annual growth in electrical load over the next 20 years, Avista Utilities plans on adding about 1,000 megawatts of capacity and reducing another 447 MW through energy efficiency savings. The Spokane-based utility serves customers in both Washington state and northern Idaho.


Avista is seeking Idaho Public Utilities Commission acceptance of its biennial Integrated Resource Plan. The IRP is a planning document outlining which generation resources the company plans to use to meet customer demand. The commission is taking public comment on the plan through Dec. 5. A copy of the plan is available on the commission’s Web site, Click on the electric icon, then on “Open Electric Cases,” and scroll down to Case No. AVU-E-11-04.  


Most of the planned added generation, about 760 MWs, would come from natural gas plants, according to the plan. Another 240 MWs would come from wind sources. 


Major changes from the utility’s 2009 plan include reduced amounts of wind and the introduction of natural gas-fired generation to meet demand during periods of peak use. “The plan includes less wind because of lower expected retail loads resulting from the present economic downturn and increased conservation acquisition,” the document states. The company states it selected gas-fired peaking resources because of a lower natural gas price forecast, lower retail loads and the need to acquire more flexible generation as a back-up when wind output is low. 


The utility forecasts annual energy deficits by 2020 if no new resources are added. 


The first addition to Avista’s generation portfolio is the Palouse Wind project near Spokane, expected to be online by the end of 2012.  The project can generate up to 100 MWs but its expected annual average output is 40 average megawatts because of the intermittency of wind. 


Following the Palouse Wind project, the company’s resource strategy includes adding an 83 MW simple-cycle natural gas plant and 43 average megawatts of wind by the end of 2020.  A 270 MW combined-cycle natural gas plant would be added in 2023 and another 270 MW combined-cycle plant in 2026. 


Avista plans to acquire 310 average megawatts of energy efficiency over the next 20 years, reducing peak demand by 207 MW by 2022 and 419 MW in 2031. 


Avista also plans to rebuild its distribution feeders over the next 20 years to reduce line losses, providing 27 MWs of peak capacity savings. 


The commission’s role is to accept or reject the plan based on whether it meets the criteria for filing an IRP every two years.  Acceptance of the plan does not mean the projects included are approved. The plan can change as circumstances warrant.  Each project in the plan is independently reviewed for cost-effectiveness and customer need before it is included in customer rates. 


Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at and clicking on "Comments & Questions About a Case." Fill in the case number (AVU-E-11-04) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.