Nevada-based utility NV Energy wants to add more utility-scale solar to its portfolio and speed up the process to retire a coal generation unit.
In a new filing, NV Energy has requested that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approve a 100 MW solar project in Boulder City, Nev., and an earlier retirement date for the remaining 257 MW unit at the Reid Gardner Generating Station. The proposal asks to move the original Dec. 31, 2017, retirement date to Feb. 28, 2017.
NV Energy says the filing is its next step in the transformation of the utility’s fuel mix, moving to a cleaner, more balanced generation portfolio. This request aligns with the Nevada legislature’s 2013 directive in S.B.123 for a structured and orderly retirement of coal-fired generation in southern Nevada and replacing that generation with renewable energy and natural-gas-fueled resources. The company retired the first three generating units at Reid Gardner at the end of 2014 and is also exiting its participation in Arizona’s Navajo Generating Station by the end of 2019.
The new solar energy project is the result of a request for proposals that NV Energy issued earlier this year. With the oversight of an independent evaluator, NV Energy signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Techren Solar LLC to build a 100 MW single-axis solar photovoltaic project in Eldorado Valley. The project is in the development phase and, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Kevin Geraghty, NV Energy’s senior vice president of energy supply, notes that the selection criteria for the new solar project was primarily based on the best value to NV Energy customers, but the decision also factored in economic and job benefits to Nevada.
“At an average cost of energy for the life of the project at approximately four cents per kilowatt-hour, this is one of the lowest-cost solar projects in the nation. And, we are very pleased with the fact that Techren has already signed a work-site agreement with local unions 357 and 396 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,” says Geraghty.
NV Energy has requested that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada make a decision on the filing by the end of this year.
The utility says its customers are already are benefiting from more than 40 solar, geothermal, wind, hydro and other renewable energy technologies being produced in Nevada. More than 300 MW of new solar energy is in the construction stage, and this new 100 MW Techren Solar project would bring NV Energy’s total renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW. However, the utility has been mired in controversy over its stance on net-metering policies for rooftop solar.