The Idaho Public Utilities Commission, in an April 16 order, extended Avista’s deadline for submitting its 2019 integrated resource plan (IRP) for six months, from Aug. 31 until Feb. 29, 2020.
As noted in the order, Avista in January filed a petition seeking a six-month extension of the Aug. 31 filing date for the company’s 2019 IRP.
The commission noted that the company must submit an IRP to the commission every two years, adding that an IRP is a status report on the utility’s ongoing and changing plans to adequately and reliably serve its customers at the lowest system cost and least risk over the next 20 years.
The company requested a six-month extension, stating that there are numerous potentially significant legislative proposals in Washington, Montana, and Oregon that if passed, would have significant impact on the regional electric market. The commission added that the company pointed to proposed legislation in Washington, particularly S.B. 5116, among others, which would require an elimination of coal generation sources serving Washington customers by 2025, 80% carbon-free energy serving Washington customers by 2030; and 100% carbon-free energy serving Washington customers by 2045.
The company also stated that Oregon is considering a cap and trade bill that the company believes may impact its Coyote Springs 2 generating facility. The commission further noted that Avista stated that Montana House Bill 203 would allow that state to issue half a billion dollars of bonds to buy Colstrip. In sum, the commission said, Avista stated that it would be premature to do IRP model runs given the high level of legislative uncertainty and therefore, requested a deadline extension in order to run its models with inputs that reflect the potentially changed legislative landscape.
The commission said that its staff and the Idaho Conservation League filed comments in support of the petition, with staff, for instance, identifying other regulatory areas that would be impacted by a delay in filing the company’s 2019 IRP, such as avoided cost updates and capacity deficiency dates under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act and setting an energy efficiency savings target for the company’s 2020 Energy Efficiency Annual Conservation Plan. Staff concluded that it and Avista could sufficiently mitigate each impact.
“Based on our review of the record, we find it reasonable to approve the company’s request for a six-month extension of its IRP filing deadline,” the commission said. “We believe the additional time will provide the company better opportunity to analyze its preferred resource portfolio given the relevant regulatory landscape going forward. We continue to recognize that the IRP is an ongoing process and there will likely never be a time free from legislative uncertainty in the energy sector. However, we find the magnitude of the potential impacts of the proposed legislation and the timing of the potential legislation in relation to the company’s model runs to be material considerations in this case.”