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Published on November 8th, 2018 | by Charles W. Thurston


Voters Raise Nevada Renewables Goal to 50%, NV Energy Has $2B Plans

November 8th, 2018 by  

Nevada voters approved a measure (Question 6) to increase the renewable energy portfolio standard for state utilities from 15% in 2025 to 50% by 2030, a goal for which NV Energy is preparing with $2 billion worth of requests for proposals this year.

On the other hand, Nevada voters squashed a different electricity utility measure (Question 3) with an equally lofty goal of ending the virtual monopoly for NV Energy in the state, despite substantial groundswell prior to the Nov. 6 vote.

Las Vegas-based NV Energy serves 1.4 million customers throughout Nevada and more than 43 million tourists annually, the company reports. NV Energy Inc. is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company, do business as NV Energy.

The renewable portfolio measure was an initiative backed by NextGen Climate Action, a PAC funded by economic activist Tom Steyer. The measure also was supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Sierra Club.

The utility was largely quiet on the renewable portfolio measure prior to the vote. “NV Energy remained neutral on Question 6 throughout the election. We support renewable energy growth in Nevada and are moving forward on our commitment to double renewables by 2023,” says Kristen Saibini, a senior corporate communication specialist.

NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill in June uncloaked the utility’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, which will help the company meet the new renewables mandate. The IRP includes a proposal to add six new photovoltaic solar energy plants with a combined capacity of close to 1 gigawatt and several battery storage projects with a combined capacity of 100 megawatts/400 MWh in the state. These would double the the utility’s renewable energy generation capacity by 2023.

These six projects would be added to NV Energy’s existing portfolio of 51 geothermal, solar, hydro, wind, biomass, and supported rooftop solar projects – bringing the utility’s total renewable energy portfolio to more than 3.2 GW of renewable energy in Nevada, the company profile indicates.

Moving a step closer, on October 16, NV Energy issued a request for proposals (RFPs) that could add at least 350 MW of renewable energy projects, potentially including solar, geothermal, wind, biomass and biogas technology projects, as well as energy storage linked to the specific project proposal. Bids are due December 10, and selected projects would require approval of the PUCN.

“The six new projects (outlined in the IRP) position NV Energy to keep its commitment to double renewable energy by 2023 and, importantly, by diversifying our state’s electricity generation portfolio, will reduce the costs to serve customers,” said Caudill. “We calculate that the direct investment in Nevada’s economy, which includes the cost of construction, will be greater than $2 billion,” he said.

At the time of the latest RFP announcement, Doug Cannon, NV Energy’s president said, “This newest effort keeps NV Energy on the path to achieving our longer-term goal of serving customers with 100% renewable energy.” He added that “Similar to the 1,001-megawatts we announced with Governor Sandoval in May of this year, we expect these new projects to provide both construction and permanent jobs and significant direct economic benefits.”

The October RFP followed a May RFP calling for bids on over 1 GW of new renewable energy resources and on 100 megawatts of battery energy capacity. Three of the May RFP projects are slated for northern Nevada and three for southern Nevada.

Among the six projects called for in the IRP that may be selected under the RFPs, one that is earmarked for a power purchase agreement with the utility is the 300 MW Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm to be located north of Las Vegas on land owned by the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The project is being developed by 8minutenergy Renewables, an independent solar and storage developer based in Folsom, CA. The company has 7.5 GW of solar PV and 1 GW of storage under development in North America.

A second solar plant earmarked for a PPA is the 250 MW Copper Mountain Solar 5 project in Eldorado Valley, just south of Boulder City, Nevada. It is being developed by Sempra Renewables, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, a developer of renewable energy. Sempra and its partners together own and operate nearly 2.6 GW of renewable generating capacity serving 11 states. 
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About the Author

Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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