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Woodward Critical Of City's Renewable Energy Plan

Photo by Leona Vander Molen

Mayoral candidate Nadine Woodward says she opposes the city of Spokane’s renewable energy goal .

Avista Utilties supported the city on the goal of getting 100% of its electricity from renewable resources by the year 2030.

But Woodward told SPR that, in an unpublished study, Avista found that such a plan would be expensive for citizens.

“That study indicated it would cost each household thousands of dollars to be able to implement that ordinance. So my question to you and your listeners is how would we be able to afford that? We live in the poorest legislative district in the state of Washington. We have people living paycheck to paycheck in this town. How is a single mom living up in Hillyard who is living paycheck to paycheck going to be able to cool or heat her home?” said Woodward.

Avista spokesman Jason Thackston says there was not an official study done on the proposal per se; it was more of a typical analysis that is conducted when policy changes are proposed. He says, initially, Avista did not support the original proposal from the city council, when the 2030 date was given as a mandate and a firm timeline. He says Avista worried about the anticipated cost of renewable energy and the possible costs that could be passed on to customers. But, he says the company changed its stance when the 2030 date became what he called an “aspirational goal”, meaning the timeline could be more flexible, depending on the actual cost of getting there.

“In order to achieve an aspirational goal, such as the one passed by the Spokane city council, we're counting on a continual decline in the cost of renewable energy and continual decline in the cost of energy storage,” he said.

Thackston says he has reason to believe renewable energy costs will be reduced in the future. He cites a wind energy project that is coming on line next year that cost half of what a similar size project did seven years ago.

An Avista spokeswoman also told SPR that her company contributed to Woodward’s opponent, Ben Stuckart. She said, although he is not the incumbent, “he has a record as an incumbent serving this community. We look to this first when making decisions about who to support in an election.”

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.