Las Vegas Sun

January 22, 2018

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State agency runs out of money to pay for costly solar power

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

CARSON CITY — The state’s Office of the Military has run out of money paying for its more expensive solar power.

Solar energy costs more now than the conventional electricity supplied by NV Energy.

And the state says it isn’t going to enter into any more solar energy contracts where it will end up costing more.

The state Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved a request from the Office of the Military to draw $46,284 from a reserve fund to pay its electric bill until June 30, the end of the fiscal year. The request still must be approved by the Legislative Interim Finance Committee.

Jennifer McEntee, administrative services officer for the Military Office, said Sierra Solar spent $15 million to $17 million building solar energy systems at training and readiness centers in Las Vegas and at the Carson City unit.

The 20-year contract, entered into in 2009, calls for the state to pay 15 cents a kilowatt hour to pay Sierra Solar for construction and maintenance. With the drop in natural gas prices, NV Energy is charging 10 to 11 cents a kilowatt hour.

At the start of the contract, NV Energy was charging 14.3 cents a kilowatt hour. The military estimated that with inflation, it would start to benefit in two years because of the set cost of solar power and the potential inflationary increase in commercial electricity.

But conventional power costs have dropped.

McEntee told the board it would have to build the higher cost of solar power into its upcoming 2013-2015 budget.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, chairman of the Board of Examiners, said the military contracts were negotiated before he entered office. He said the state will be careful in any future contracts.

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