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Briefs -- Avista Utilities | California Renewables

On a 2-1 vote, the state of Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) on Monday rejected a request by Spokane-based Avista Utilities to have its natural gas and electric rate case decisions from December reconsidered. UTC Chairman David Danner and Commissioner Ann Rendahl voted not to reconsider or rehear the 2016 rate case decision, while Commissioner Phil Jones, who filed a dissent in the original 2-1 decision, did so again on Monday. Avista's petition for a rehearing was opposed by UTC staff, the public counsel unit of the state Attorney General's Office, the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities, and the Northwest Industrial Gas Users. The combination utility had requested a two-phase increase of $4.4 million (5%) for natural gas rates the first 12 months and an additional $900,000 annual increase (1.8%) after 18 months; electric rates were pegged for a $38.6 million (7.8%) increase at first with an added $10.3 million (3.9%) after 18 months. The two commissioners in the majority decided that Avista failed to show that its current rates are not sufficient to meet its operating needs. Avista has 30 days to petition for judicial review in a state Superior Court.

California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon has submitted a bill (SB 584) calling for mandating that 100% of the state's power come from renewable resources by 2045. Current California renewable standards call for 33% of the power from renewables by 2020 and 50% by 2030. De Leon's bill would move up the 50% requirement to 2025 and phase in goals over the subsequent 20 years. At the end of 2015, California's three major utilities were at 27.6% renewables. Peter Miller, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the SB 584 goal is realistic as the utilities are racing ahead of existing renewable milestones. He claims wind and solar power are now the lowest-cost options for new generation when their emissions benefits are factored in.

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