NV Energy secures $138 million in stimulus funds

NV Energy has become the first investor-owned utility in the country to seal the deal on federal stimulus funds.

The local electric company said Friday that it has signed a definitive agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy on a $138 million federal grant to help finance the launch of its $301 million Advanced Service Delivery project.

NV Energy applied for the funds last summer and found out in October that the utility had landed a grant. The signed contract makes the agreement official.

With Advanced Service Delivery, NV Energy will build smart-grid infrastructure that the company says will reduce its operating costs and allow power users to manage their energy consumption.

Through the project, NV Energy plans to replace every electric meter in the state with a smart meter designed to let ratepayers direct their energy use year-round, day and night, by moving consumption to times of the day when electricity costs less.

NV Energy executives have said some research shows that the technology will help consumers reduce their power bills by as much as 15 percent a month, though the company will test those claims in a pilot program.

The remainder of Advanced Service Delivery's funding could come partly from consumers' rates, but the state Public Utilities Commission would have to approve recovery of the investment through rates. The commission sent the Department of Energy a letter expressing support for Advanced Service Delivery.

NV Energy's grant was part of $3.4 billion in government funds given to 100 projects aimed at modernizing the nation's power grid. In addition to smart meters, the grants will pay for automation at utility substations, digital transformers and grid sensors. The grants range from $400,000 to $200 million.

"This grant, along with our own investment in this project, will benefit virtually the entire state of Nevada," said Michael Yackira, NV Energy's president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "The energy landscape is transforming across the country, and I am proud to say NV Energy is leading the way. Our ASD project will change the way we do business, providing our customers with more information that will enable them to manage their energy use more effectively and efficiently."

The utility said it hopes to complete statewide installation of Advanced Service Delivery infastructure in late 2012.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.