NV Energy new clean energy investment relies on Question 3

The construction site of the El Dorado Valley solar projects photographed on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
A worker directs traffic at the construction site of the El Dorado Valley solar projects on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Copper Mountain Solar ll power plant is seen in El Dorado Valley on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Copper Mountain Solar ll power plant is seen in El Dorado Valley on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
The construction site of a large solar projects in the El Dorado Valley photographed on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
The construction site of the El Dorado Valley solar projects photographed on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
The construction site of a large solar projects in the El Dorado Valley photographed on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
The construction site of the El Dorado Valley solar projects photographed on Thursday, May 31, 2018, in Boulder City. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
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NV Energy announced plans Thursday to add six new solar projects in Nevada in what it said is the largest clean energy investment in the state’s history.

But it may drop the plans if the Energy Choice Initiative on November’s ballot, known as Question 3, passes.

A statement from NV Energy — the state’s largest electricity supplier — said if the measure passes, it has the option to not proceed to avoid “increasing the liabilities and risks to NV Energy customers.”

Question 3 would allow Nevadans to pick their own energy supplier, opening the state up as a competitive market. Supporters say the measure would bring cheaper energy options. Opponents say it would lead to higher energy bills.

A report from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada said NV Energy would likely have to divest power plants and power generating assets, leaving ratepayers to cover any financial losses. An alternative study said Nevadans would see their monthly bills decrease by roughly $11 per month.

“We are navigating uncertainties in the current market, given Question 3 on the statewide ballot,” NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill said in a statement.

Clean energy expansion

Three of the six new renewable energy projects are slated to operate in southern Nevada, and all are expected to be running by 2021. The projects will be able to generate enough power to serve more than 600,000 typical Nevada homes.

“I’ve been so inspired by work with legislature and work with local governments in terms of Nevada positioning itself as the new leader in a new economy, and a big piece of that is renewable energy,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday.

NV Energy said investments in Nevada’s economy, including construction costs, are expected to surpass $2 billion. The company said the projects will need more than 1,700 construction workers and create about 80 permanent jobs.

If NV Energy’s plan is approved by the PUC and completed, Caudill said the new projects would lower energy costs.

Customers “can feel good when these projects are done,” he said. “Almost 33 percent of the electricity they get will be delivered from renewable energy.”

The company is also requesting approval for the first time to build 100 megawatts of battery energy capacity. Caudill said these projects would help put NV Energy on track to double its renewable energy use by 2023 and ultimately supply customers with 100 percent renewable energy.

“We’ve got a lot of tech issues we have to work through (first), but that’s why we’re starting the battery storage projects,” Caudill said. “We’ve got to have those in place to achieve that goal.”

NV Energy will file a request with the PUC on Friday.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Solar projects’ economic impact

According to NV Energy the project will create:

— More than $2 billion in direct investments in Nevada’s economy, including construction costs

— Create more than 1,700 construction jobs

— Create about 80 long-term, permanent jobs

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