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Ratepayers to foot most of the bill on $5.3B in new NV Energy projects

Updated June 6, 2024 - 5:21 pm

NV Energy is looking to spend at least $5.3 billion to build new infrastructure to help the utility catch up to Nevada’s growth.

NV Energy filed a resource plan to the Public Utilities Commission outlining what projects the utility needs to build, including three solar fields, two natural gas turbines and new transmission infrastructure projects and upgrades. The plans also include a billion-dollar price increase on the Greenlink Nevada transmission project. The plan became accessible to the public on Thursday.

If approved and constructed, NV Energy customers would pay for the majority of the cost of the projects with higher electric rates. An NV Energy spokesperson said customers won’t start paying for the projects until they are in-use, which could take a few years.

NV Energy CEO Doug Cannon said the resource plan, which was filed last week, balances the needs to grow the company’s network and customer concerns on prices.

“This is our path forward and these are our priority projects to meet the present and long-term needs of our current and future customers,” Cannon said in a statement. “The requested resources present a balanced portfolio that will reduce NV Energy reliance on expensive and unreliable market resources and will position Nevada to continue to provide reliable energy services at a cost that is below the national average and is more than 50 percent cheaper than energy rates paid by residents of California.”

Greenlink costs

NV Energy thinks construction of the Greenlink Nevada project will total $4.24 billion, with contingency costs, said Shahzad Lateef, the senior project director of transmission development for the utility, in testimony filed to the PUC.

This is an increase of about $1.34 billion from the last estimate NV Energy provided in February.

The proposed project would create a loop made up of 585 miles of transmission lines that the utility says would make it easier to transfer energy to all major areas of the state. The goal is to have the lines in service by the end of 2028.

“In recent years, the cost of transmission infrastructure construction has seen a notable increase based on inflation, supply chain constraints, and labor rate escalations. The Greenlink project has not been immune to that increase,” NV Energy said in its application.

The project will boost NV Energy’s revenue by $50.8 million per year and $926.8 million over Greenlink’s lifetime, since it will be more efficent to transfer energy and easier to sell excess energy, said John Tsoukalis, an energy consultant and principal at The Brattle Group, in testimony submitted for NV Energy.

Other big ticket items

The two natural gas turbines, which would cost $573.3 million, are proposed for the North Valmy Generating Station in Humboldt County. The turbines would generate more than 400 megawatts of power, NV Energy said.

According to the proposed plan, other companies will build the three solar fields, but NV Energy will pay $105.6 million a year for the megawatt hours and $2.6 billion over the lifespan of the facilities.

The three solar projects would generate more than 1,000 megawatts of solar energy and battery storage.

One megawatt of energy can power 750 - 1,000 homes, according to the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the California energy market. So NV Energy’s proposed natural gas turbines could power 300,000 - 400,000 homes and the solar projects combined could power 750,000 to 1 million homes.

The natural gas turbines should be in service by mid-2028, and the solar projects should come online sometime between 2026 and 2027.

NV Energy’s plan includes over 20 transmission projects and upgrades that would total around $813.2 million.

The utility also proposes spending $19.2 million to help electrify some transportation infrastructure in the state through charging and pilot programs, community partnerships and education efforts on transportation electrification, the spokesperson said.

The nonprofit advocacy group Western Resource Advocates said in a press release it’s supportive of NV Energy’s plans to fund renewable projects but wants more spending on transportation electrification and doesn’t approve of adding natural gas turbines, since natural gas has volatile pricing.

“The plan lacks ambition on the level of investment needed to meet customer demand for electric vehicle charging, and the expansion of methane gas resources will continue to expose Nevada families and businesses to the risk of significant spikes in power bills,” said George Cavros, Nevada clean energy manager and senior attorney for WRA.

The PUC has 180 days to consider NV Energy’s plan.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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