Feb 24 , 2012
outage video
 
Post & video by Dan Kolbet
 
Avista crews battle the wind to restore power to North Spokane neighborhood on February 22, 2012. A tree branch came into contact with a power line, damaging the equipment. Crews made a temporary fix and routed power around the damaged insulator, then moved on to the next outage. When winds calm, we'll come back and fix the insulator permanently.
 
Our crews do this work for you, regardless of weather conditions. A neighboring homeowner even brought out a plate of treats for the crew - very nice of her.
 
The video is set to the tune of "Dust in the Wind," sad song, but fitting for such a windy, dusty day!
Published: 2/24/2012  3:15 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 30 , 2011
 
Today, Avista announced an agreement to purchase power generated by the proposed Palouse Wind project in Whitman County, Wash., beginning in the second half of 2012. What does this mean for you as an Avista customer? Well, it’s really about Avista’s responsibility to balance the costs of new resources with securing enough energy to meet your energy needs, while at the same time satisfying renewable portfolio standards, both in the near and long term.

Avista must comply with renewable portfolio standards (RPS) detailed in Washington’s Energy Independence Act, which was approved by Washington State voters with the passage of Initiative 937 in 2006. The Act requires us to use eligible renewable resources, renewable energy credits, or a combination of both, to meet the following targets: 3% of energy used to meet customer demand by January 1, 2012, 9% by January 1, 2016 and 15% by January 1, 2020.

We’re already meeting the 2012 targets, mostly with upgrades we’ve made at our hydroelectric dams. Those upgrades allow us to generate more energy using the same amount of water, with the additional energy qualifying in Washington as an eligible renewable resource.

The next big deadline will be 2016, and, while it’s still a few years away, we’ve been thinking about it for some time. Over the past few years, we’ve been following the market and looking for potential opportunities to incorporate cost-effective, renewable power. Recent market changes, including lower costs of developing wind power facilities and tax incentives, have made this an excellent time to do that, so in February we put out a request for proposals. Through a competitive bid process, Palouse Wind, which has the added benefit of being located in Avista’s service territory, was selected.

Avista expects to recover the cost of the power purchased from Palouse Wind through retail rates as we would have to recover the cost of any power used to meet demand, but not before that power is generated and delivered to customers. Remember, we’re a regulated utility, which means we can’t recover costs we haven’t incurred, and we must justify any rate increase.

The wind farm is expected be the largest renewable energy facility in Whitman County with the capacity to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power about 30,000 of Avista’s customers’ homes. Developers say its location between the town of Oakesdale and State Route 195 is ideal for capturing the prevailing southwest wind.

Along with the other things Avista’s doing, like upgrading our dams, the renewable power purchased from Palouse Wind is expected to help us meet Washington State RPS goals for 2016, and will also provide a new energy resource for our customers. We think it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
Published: 6/30/2011  2:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Mar 24 , 2010
Power Supply video
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
The cost of energy itself (generating or purchasing) makes up about 60 percent of the cost customers pay each month. So, when those costs go up, it makes a significant impact on rates. To help work through this topic we created the video, “Power Supply: What’s Driving Rates.”

The details
Avista generates about 93 percent of the power customers use with our own hydro, biomass, natural gas and coal generation resources. The additional power our customers need comes from resources owned by other Northwest producers via some long-term, low-cost contracts.

The demand for electricity continues to increase, so when those long-term contracts expire, as they have and will continue to do so over the next several years, we have to replace that low-cost electricity with reliable, but more expensive power.

Today, the commodity portion of a customer’s bill is about 4 and one half cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity. But, as those long-term contracts expire, the replacement power will cost between 7 and 11 cents, depending on the resource.

Learn more about power supply costs by watching the video (under two minutes).
Published: 3/24/2010  3:33 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 17 , 2010
Future Reardan Wind site
The Reardan Wind project (site
shown above) is on hold for a few
years.
Post by Hugh Imhof

So it looks like it will be a few more years before Avista builds a new wind farm. We’ve had plans to eventually build a wind project at Reardan, but now we are pushing the timeframe back.

The decision to reschedule the project, along with any other new renewables, wasn’t an easy one to make. Avista thought that all the current stimulus and tax incentives and lower turbine prices might make this a good time to build a project, but the numbers didn’t quite pencil out. The problem is that we don’t actually need the renewables right now, and it doesn’t make sense to add all the cost (these things are very expensive) until it’s closer to the time when we do need them.

Avista is already one of the greenest utilities in the country. We get more than 60 percent of our energy from clean hydropower and other renewable resources. Our carbon footprint is among the ten smallest of all the generating utilities in the U.S.

Avista has a plan for new resources called an IRP (integrated resource plan) that is updated every two years and looks at future resource needs. The current plan identifies that we will not need additional renewable energy until 2016. That’s because Washington has a law called an RPS (renewable portfolio standards) that requires utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from qualifying renewables such as wind or solar. Unfortunately our existing hydropower and wood waste project doesn’t count, according to the RPS.

We’ve been upgrading our hydroelectric generators, which does count and helps us meet some of the RPS requirement. We’ve been buying renewable energy credits that also count toward the goals. But by 2016 we’ll need to add more qualifying renewable resource.

Until then we’ll keep evaluating potential new resources and make our decision based on the most cost effective ways to meet RPS goals while still serving our customers reliably.
 
Published: 2/17/2010  2:03 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 14 , 2009
Below is a link to some pictures of Avista’s proposed wind farm near Reardan, Wash. Avista holds the rights to develop on the site and is in the process of testing it by monitoring weather – wind – patterns to ensure the site is the most efficient possible. We’re still working through a timeline for building this project.

Our system isn’t in need of the electricity this site would create until 2012, but we’re exploring all options to keep construction costs as low as possible. We’re currently developing our 2009 Integrated Resource Plan that further defines our resource mix. You can check out the progress of that plan here.

Wind power is an intermittent resource. It only generates power when the wind blows. Typically a wind facility averages about 1/3 of its capacity. Something to keep in mind when thinking about wind.
 
 
Post by Dan Kolbet
Published: 7/14/2009  11:03 AM | 1  Comment | 0  Links to this post

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