Avista and utility commission holding open meetings Wednesday afternoon, evening

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On Wednesday, Eastern Washington residents will get two chances to give input on where they get their electricity from and how much that electricity costs.

First up, the Washington Utilities and Transportation 
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Commission will host  an afternoon session from 1 pm to 3 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Spokane Valley City Hall, that will include a presentation and chance to comment on Avista's 2017 Electric Integrated Resource Plan.

The plan spells out where the utility produces electricity, and where it plans to get electricity from over the next 20 years.

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have criticized Avista's plan as being out of touch, as the utility is one of the few remaining owners of the Colstrip coal power plant in southeastern Montana that plans to rely on the facility well after 2030.

Avista is planning to use the facility until at least 2037, which could put Eastern Washington ratepayers at risk of a hike in prices if other owners pull out of the project as well, says Caleb Heeringa, a Sierra Club spokesman.

They contrast Avista's decision with Puget Sound Energy in western Washington, which plans to close two of the four units at Colstrip by 2022, and recently filed a settlement that assumed the other units wouldn't be used past 2027.

In the evening, the UTC will hold a public comment hearing with Avista, this time on the utility's General Rate Case, which sets how much electricity will cost, and as proposed, would reflect an increased cost for Washington state customers. The hearing is at 6 pm, at the Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook St. in Spokane.