Avista opposes renewables initiative that excludes existing hydro

Avista Utilities is urging Washington voters to reject a renewable energy initiative that Avista says excludes existing hydropower and would artificially increase costs for electricity consumers.

Initiative 937, to be voted on Nov. 7, would require utilities to acquire 15 percent of their energy supply from new renewable sources, but fails to qualify existing hydropower.

Avista, which operates eight hydroelectric plants totaling 979 MW, supplies more than half of its load from hydropower. However, because existing hydro does not qualify under the initiative, Avista said it would be forced to acquire resources without regard to its integrated resource plan.

Avista Utilities President Scott Morris said the company updates its integrated resource plan every two years, as required by state regulators. He said that process helps the company serve its customers in a least-cost and reliable way.

Morris said I-937 would tie utility hands, impairing their process to acquire new resources in the most scientific and economical way possible.

�We have an obligation to do what is best for our customers,� he said. �Renewable resources are an important part of our energy future, but I-937 is the wrong approach to energy resource planning.�

The initiative does define eligible renewable resources to include incremental electricity from efficiency improvements at regional utility-owned hydroelectric projects and irrigation pipes and canals. However, the additional generation would be ineligible if it resulted in new water diversions or impoundments.

Avista Utilities, a division of Avista Corp., serves electric and natural gas customers in Washington and two other states.

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