Avista Utilities’ 2021 electric IRP includes upgrades to existing hydropower

By Elizabeth Ingram

Avista Utilities, an operating division of Avista Corp., plans to reduce carbon-emitting resources from its portfolio in alignment with the company’s clean electricity goal announced in 2019.

In its 2021 Electric Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) filed with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission and the Idaho Public Utility Commission, Avista said it has adequate resources — between owned and contractually controlled generation, when combined with conservation and market purchases — to meet customer needs through 2025. New renewable energy, energy storage, demand response, energy efficiency, and upgrades to existing hydropower and biomass plants are integral to the plan.

Avista is modeling a future that reflects both Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) requirements in Washington and its own clean electricity goals. In 2019, Avista announced its goal to serve its customers with 100% clean electricity by 2045 and to have a carbon-neutral supply of electricity by the end of 2027. Fifty-five percent of Avista’s current generating potential is clean hydropower, biomass, wind and solar.

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

Some highlights of the 2021 IRP include:

  • The resource strategy meets nearly 78% of Avista’s corporate clean electricity goal to provide customers with 100% net clean electricity by 2027 at competitive prices.
  • A new chapter in this IRP addresses energy equity and plans to form an Equity Advisory Group in 2021 to further engage vulnerable and highly impacted communities.
  • Avista is concluding its 2020 Renewable Request for Proposals process, and any contract that is executed through that process will modify Avista’s resulting resource needs.
  • The first new renewable resource identified in the IRP is in 2023 as a wind project in Montana. Additional Montana wind is identified in 2024 and 2028. The location of the new wind resources would diversify and complement Avista’s existing wind portfolio and would be acquired through a future competitive selection process.
  • Avista anticipates customer load growth of 0.3% per year, similar to the projected growth rate in the 2020 IRP.

Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities provides electric service to 400,000 customers and natural gas to 367,000 customers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.7 million.

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