Las Vegas Sun

February 18, 2018

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NV Energy meets renewable energy goals, yet draws criticism from Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may think NV Energy hasn't done enough in developing renewable energy, but the utility has met and exceeded mandates set by the Nevada Legislature.

In a television interview in Reno on Tuesday, Reid, D-Nev., said the state's biggest electric utility could do more to promote renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal projects.

NV Energy declined comment.

But the subsidiary companies Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power filed their annual reports with the state Public Utilities Commission on March 30 showing they exceeded their renewable energy standard obligations.

The 1997 Legislature set the targets for the two utilities, and last year 15 percent of their retail sales were required from renewable energy resources and 5 percent of that amount comes from solar resources.

For Nevada Power, which serves Southern Nevada, the utility had 16.7 percent of their retail sales come from renewable energy and 10 percent of that amount was generated by solar projects. Sierra Pacific reported 24.9 percent of its retail sales involved renewal resources. And 8.2 percent was solar generated.

This was the second year that Nevada Power and its sister Sierra Pacific have surpassed the goal set by the Legislature.

The report was submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission which said public comments could be submitted until April 25.

The PUC has set May 24 for a hearing on the plans by the two utilities to meet the goals in the future on solar, wind and water energy system projects.

In 2013, they must have 18 percent of their sales from alternative energy. In 2015, the mandate is 20 percent. It rises to 22 percent in 2020 and then to 25 percent in 2025. The solar obligation is 6 percent by 2016.

By exceeding their goal this year, the two utilities will be able to use those extra kilowatts in future years to meet the targets.

Douglas Brooks, counsel for NV Energy, said in the annual report that the utility has received approval from the PUC to buy power from First Solar at Primm in southern Clark County. It will be among the country's largest solar producing facilities.

Brooks, in his report to the PUC, said, "Nevada's first major wind project begins commercial operation later this year." That is located in eastern Nevada near Ely.

In addition, two other renewable energy projects are nearing completion — Hot Sulphur Springs II, a geothermal facility in Northern Nevada and CC Landfill in Clark County to burn garbage to generate energy.

Reid said, "I don't think NV Energy has done enough to allow renewable energy to thrive."

The report said, "Sierra Pacific is currently well-positioned to meet the renewal energy standard obligation in the next several years." It has a large amount of geothermal energy to draw from.

In the future, NV Energy will be required to keep a close eye on each development project and their likelihood to succeed.

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