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Avista Prepares for New Mexico Market Entrance

Avista Prepares for New Mexico Market Entrance

Avista Power said Tuesday it purchased a 20-acre site in Lordsburg, NM from TNP Technologies and plans to put a $70 million power plant into service on the acreage by early 2000. The terms of the sale were not disclosed. The land contains four older generators, which were in the process of being updated. All permits and licenses will transfer to Avista Power and the transaction is expected to close within 60 days.

The purchase marks Avista's physical entrance into the area. "The Desert Southwest is a growing and important market," said T.M. Matthews, CEO of Avista Corp. "The Lordsburg, NM, facility presented an opportunity to enter a new market and to immediately begin providing energy to one of the fastest growing regions of the country."

The planned power plant also signifies the continuance of Avista's determination to produce electricity and gas for Avista Energy to market. Last December, Washington Water Power, (now called Avista Corp.) entered into an agreement with Cogentrix Energy to jointly build and/or buy interests in the gas-fired, 270 MW Rathdrum facility in Rathdrum, ID (See Daily GPI, Dec.14, 1998). "Gaining ownership and control of both electric and natural gas production and transportation assets has been at the core of our regional and national growth initiatives, specifically in support of Avista Energy," Matthews said. "Rathdrum and Lordsburg are the first of many projects to be developed by Avista Power."

Avista Power has no stated goal as to how many electric assets it will acquire in 1999, said Susan Nielsen, an Avista spokesman. "It will depend on a number of factors such as price, access to gas, and if the area has a need for new generation. Although our first two plants have been in the West, this is not an indication for the future. Due to the 110 year history of Washington Water Power the West is most familiar to us. But we are a national presence and we are looking for the right deals all across North America and Canada."

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