ICL urges public input on Avista plan

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SANDPOINT — The Idaho Conservation League is encouraging eastern Washington residents to weigh in on Avista’s long-term energy plan today in Spokane Valley, Wah..

The Washington State Utilities & Transportation Commission will be holding a public hearing on the plan at Spokane Valley City Hall, 10210 East Sprague Ave. The hearing runs from 1-3 p.m.

Matt Nykiel said the public gets precious few opportunities to weigh in on where they get their electricity from.

“We talking once every couple of years at best,” Nykiel said in an email.

Avista’s customers in northern Idaho got their shot at last week’s Idaho Public Utilities Commission telephonic public hearing. Avista’s consumers in Washington state get their shot on Wednesday, Nykiel said.

Avista’s continued use of a coal plan in Colstrip, Mont., remains a hot topic of discussion, according to the Idaho Conservation League. Nykiel said many of the plant’s owners are seeking exit strategies as cleaner energy alternative become more affordable.

ICL points out that Puget Sound Energy recently filed a settlement with the commission that 2027 as their best estimate of the plant’s useful life and shortens their outstanding debt on the plan to paid off by that date. Meanwhile, Portland General Electric is required by Oregon law to be off of coal by 2030.

“Avista, on the other hand, is operating under the assumption in the long-range plan that Colstrip will be running past 2037. That puts North Idaho families at risk of sudden and drastic rate increases if one of the plant’s other owners leaves early,” Nykiel said.

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