Coal, Energy Storage, Solar

NV Energy Reorients Generation Mix toward Solar, Retiring Coal

Nevada-based NV Energy’s new and regulator-approved integrated resource plan will dramatically reorient the utility’s future generation mix toward renewables and storage, while also phasing out its remaining coal power beginning in three years.

The Public Utility Commission of Nevada has approved NV’s long-term IRP to double its renewable energy capacity by 2023. The utility will bring 1,001 MW of solar capacity online via six new power purchase agreements (PPAs).

NV Energy, owned by a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, also will add 100 MW in battery storage capacity.

“Earlier this year we made a promise to our customers that we would double our renewable energy by 2023 and today’s decision puts us closer to reaching that goal, as well as to our long-term commitment to serve them with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Doug Cannon, NV Energy President, in a statement. “These six new projects, which represent the largest renewable energy investment in Nevada’s history, will also bring great economic benefits to our state.”

The new solar PPA projects include the 101-MW Battle Mountain, 200-MW Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center, 100-MW Fish Springs Ranch, 300-MW Eagle Shadow, 250-MW Copper Mountain and 50-MW Techren Solar. All of the projects are located in Nevada but owned by other entities.

NV Energy said the projects represent more than $2 billion worth of investment and jobs for about 1,700 workers. The solar PPA additions will raise the renewable energy portion of NV’s generation mix from 14 percent last year to 32 percent by 2023, according to reports.

The plan approved by Nevada regulators also gives NV Energy authority to retire its North Valmy coal-fired Unit 1 by 2021, four years ahead of schedule. NV Energy already planned to retire North Valmy Unit 2 by 2025.

Those are the last two coal-fired units operating in Nevada. The early closure is dependent on factors including new renewable generation being constructed and operational on time.

Numerous clean energy advocates—including the Sierra Club, Western Resource Advocates and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, applauded the moves.

“Nevadans made very clear last election they want more clean energy, and this early retirement announcement for the North Valmy coal plant helps us get there,” said Elspeth DiMarzio, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign representative for Nevada, in a statement. “Replacing the Valmy coal plant with new clean energy will save Nevadans tens of millions of dollars, create new jobs, and clear toxic pollution from our air and water. Closing this coal plant early is the right thing to do for Nevadans, and we are thrilled to see the Commission and NV Energy take this step.”

(Rod Walton is content manager for PowerGen International and the Power Engineering website. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).