Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

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Official: Incentives for wind energy program not cost-effective

CARSON CITY — Programs to support wind-energy projects for Nevadans have been a financial flop so far, according to the state Bureau of Consumer Protection.

But NV Energy of Las Vegas and Sierra Pacific Power of Reno say changes are being made, and the program should continue.

The issue of whether to continue funding the green-power program next year for the utilities was raised Thursday before the state Public Utilities Commission.

Since 2008, the utilities have been paying cash incentives to those who install wind turbines at small business, residential homes, farms, schools and public buildings.

NV Energy says 136 projects have been developed, and the rebates have totaled $18.6 million.

Jerry Mendl, an energy executive from Middleton, Wis., was set to testify for the Bureau of Consumer Protection none of the projects funded have produced enough power to be financially viable, he said.

“Wind turbine installations under the company’s program simply do not generate enough power to cover the costs of the turbines,” Mendl said in prepared testimony for the Public Utilities Commission.

The generators are located in areas where there just isn’t enough wind to operate efficiently, he said. The Public Utilities Commission should not approve any more wind generation plants until they can be proven cost effective, he said.

But John Hargrove, in charge of the program for NV Energy, said customers have a continued interest in the program and that it serves a need.

The company has made several changes that have the support of the wind industry, he said. “The recommendations will make the future better and improve the cost effectiveness of the program,” he said in prepared testimony.

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