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Avista Utilities submits resource plan to Washington, Idaho regulators outlining clean-energy goals

Avista Utilities submitted its 2021 integrated resource plan to Washington and Idaho regulators last week. The plan outlines Avista’s goals toward achieving 100% clean energy by 2045.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman/Review)
Avista Utilities submitted its 2021 integrated resource plan to Washington and Idaho regulators last week. The plan outlines Avista’s goals toward achieving 100% clean energy by 2045. (TYLER TJOMSLAND/The Spokesman/Review)

Avista Utilities is planning to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by acquiring additional wind generation resources and upgrading its biomass and hydroelectric plants, according to the utility’s 2021 electric integrated resource plan.

The plan, submitted last week to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission and the Idaho Public Utility Commission, shapes Avista’s strategy to meet electric load growth for the next 24 years.

The resource plan also outlines the utility company’s goals to meet Washington state’s requirement of 100% clean energy by 2045 and have a carbon-neutral supply of electricity by the end of 2027.

Nearly 55% of Avista’s current power generating potential comes from hydropower, biomass, wind and solar, according to its 2021 resource plan, known by its acronym IRP.

“We evaluate many options to find the ideal strategy to serve our customers that balances cost, reliability and the environment,” Jason Thackston, Avista’s senior vice president of energy resources, said in a statement. “We are pleased to have a plan that builds on our already strong commitment to the environment.”

Avista officials indicated in their resource plan that they plan to add 200 megawatts of wind generation from a project in Montana in 2023 and 2024, with an additional 100 megawatts of wind power to follow in 2028.

Avista is mulling the possibility of increasing the capacity of its Kettle Falls biomass plant by nearly 12 megawatts before 2026.

The utility, in its 2020 resource plan, found it to be cost-effective to also modernize its Post Falls hydro facility. That would increase that dam’s capacity by 8 megawatts.

Avista’s 2021 resource plan includes information about the utility’s 15% ownership of Units 3 and 4 of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Montana. Avista is one of six owners of Units 3 and 4 at the plant.

Avista and other utility companies in the state will no longer be allowed to distribute electricity from coal-fired generation after 2025 due to the Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act.

Avista indicated it’s economically feasible for the utility to exit the Colstrip facility, but an exit strategy has not yet been agreed upon by its owners.

“Given the difficulty of exiting ownership of this facility, Avista cannot commit to a specific exit or retirement date at this time, but Avista continues to work toward the optimal exit from the resource,” the utility said in its 2021 resource plan.

Avista seeks input from customers, environmental organizations, business groups, elected officials and utility commission staff when developing its resource plan, which is typically updated every two years.

In February, Avista hosted a public meeting for the 2021 resource plan with more than 150 customers in attendance.

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