NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill says his company has not requested permission yet to build a $1 billion power plant, it only asked for the funds to conduct a $2.4 million study on the proposed project.
Caudill discussed plans for the 706-MW project with the Public Utilities Commission in the midst of testimony about three casinos trying to end power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the company.
“Let me be clear, NV Energy has not requested permission to build a new natural gas-fired generating plant in 2020,” said Caudill. “We have simply asked for permission to spend $2.4 million to maintain optionality and flexibility should a future project in that timeframe be needed.”
Wynn Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands have cited the $1 billion proposal in their bids for early exits from the PPAs, prompting energy experts to proclaim the new plant will be unnecessary if the casinos, which make up about 7 percent of NV Energy’s customer base, leave.
NV Energy says if the casinos leave, the company’s other customers will see a rate increase to cover the gap in demand.
“Frankly, it’s a process that neither the company, nor the (casinos) can win,” said Caudill.
The PSC will decide by January if the study can be funded.
“We will not develop a new, company-owned generating plant without evaluating all reasonable alternatives and obtaining commission approval through an open, public process,” said Caudill.
NV Energy is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and currently owns or has long-term contracts with more than a dozen fossil fuel-fired power plants.
If developed, the new plant would likely replace the energy produced by NV Energy’s coal-fired facilities, which are expected to be phased out over the next four years.