Avista Utilities Slims Down Wind Power Plans In Favor Of Natural Gas


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) says Avista Utilities plans to add 240 MW of wind power to its portfolio under its new integrated resources plan (IRP), which is less than the utility had planned in its 2009 IRP.

Avista is seeking PUC acceptance of its biennial IRP, which is a planning document outlining which generation resources the company plans to use to meet customer demand. 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 PUC says.

Instead, the utility plans to add more natural-gas generation – 760 MW – due to its cheaper forecast prices. Avista says 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 backup for when wind output is low.

"The plan includes less wind because of lower expected retail loads resulting from the present economic downturn and increased conservation acquisition," the IRP states.

The first addition to Avista's generation portfolio, the Palouse Wind project, is expected to be online by the end of 2012. The project, located near Spokane, Wash., can generate up to 100 MW, but because of wind's intermittency, its expected annual average output is 40 MW. The company also plans to add 43 MW of wind energy by the end of 2020.

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