Las Vegas Sun

August 22, 2019

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State grants new hearing on NV Energy deal with solar, geothermal projects

NV Energy has won a preliminary round in its fight to convince the state Public Utilities Commission to approve contracts with prospective solar and a geothermal energy projects.

In an about face, the commission agreed to rehear the utility's application for the three renewal energy projects. The commission said delays might lead to higher costs for purchased power and even threaten the cancellation of the projects.

NV Energy is planning to buy solar energy from Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Mountain View Solar, two sun-powered projects. It is contracting with Ormat Technologies for a geothermal project in Churchill County.

The plants are not built but need approval from the PUC in order to obtain financing.

Nevada law requires utilities to get a certain percentage of power from renewable sources. Mark Severts, project communications director for NV Energy, said the utility met its goal of 12 percent last year and is on target this year to reach 15 percent.

Without additional renewal energy resources, the utility says it will fall short of the requirement. In 2015, it says it will be deficient by 86 megawatts.

Severts said the company will provide the requested information at the rehearing. He said the PUC "recognizes that renewable energy is an important part of our energy future."

The commission originally said the Las Vegas utility failed to provide the required information to make a decision. It gave NV Energy 90 days to submit the data.

NV Energy then asked for a rehearing and reconsideration. The commission denied the request, but Commissioner Rebecca Wagner then drafted an amendment to grant the re-hearing.

"The commission is now in a position whereby actions could create project failures — this is the very issue the commission is trying to avoid," Wagner wrote in the order.

The commission set Jan. 31 as the final deadline for its decision.

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