Avista Corp. is ready to comply with new state laws mandating that large utilities procure 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources.
The problem, according to Avista spokesman Hugh Imhof, is that the price of those megawatts is rising fast and will ultimately dig a deeper hole into the pockets of ratepayers.
Voters approved Initiative 937 last November. To comply, utilities are moving quickly to buy power from companies with wind turbines, or possibly build their own. That activity has about doubled the price of wind-generated power, which hasn’t been able to keep pace with green-power demand.
Avista, which sells electricity to 338,000 customers in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, already had plans to meet the requirements by the 2020 deadline. But company officials worried prior to the elections that mandating changes would amount to a market distortion.
Currently, wind power represents less than 1 percent of Avista’s supply.
The initiative did not allow companies such as Avista to count their large sources of hydropower as a renewable.
It does, however, let utilities count megawatts gained from upgrades to hydropower projects.
Passage of the initiative put Washington among a group of 20 other states that have what are called renewable portfolio standards.
While Avista actively campaigned against the initiative, other major utilities in the state were mum.
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