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VICTOR JOECKS: NV Energy’s battery storage is a rip-off

NV Energy is robbing ratepayers blind and bragging about it. Welcome to the world — and power bills — championed by global warming alarmists.

Last week, NV Energy held a ribbon-cutting ceremony near Moapa to celebrate its new battery storage facility. The Reid Gardner battery plant can provide 220 megawatts of power for two hours. That sounds impressive — at least NV Energy wants you to think so. But if you dig past the spin, you’ll realize you’re being fleeced. First, some background.

Energy demand peaks between 5 and 9 p.m. People are coming home from work and turning on the air conditioning. So energy demand is highest as solar power production declines. That’s a problem because electricity has to be used almost instantly.

This battery project, which cost $257 million, is supposed to bridge the gap.

In theory, that’s a great idea. But the numbers show it’s a boondoggle. In 2023, NV Energy CEO Doug Cannon said Nevada’s power demand peaks at 9,000 megawatts an hour. If all its energy could be used simultaneously, this battery plant would provide less than 5 percent of that. It could power the state for less than three minutes. At this price point, building enough battery storage to provide an hour of peak power would cost more than $5 billion.

Personally, I prefer my home to be cool the whole evening.

Last year, Cannon said power on the open market during the summer can cost $1,800 a megawatt hour. He said the battery power is 60 percent cheaper than that. That would put the price around $720 a megawatt hour. Last year, NV Energy said it wanted to build two new natural gas turbines at its Silverhawk Generating Station in Moapa. The plant would cost $350 million and produce 440 megawatts. Cannon said the plant would produce power at $50 a megawatt hour. Unlike battery storage, natural gas plants can produce power continuously.

The battery plant is built on the site of a former coal power plant, which once provided 557 megawatts. In total, coal once produced around 800 megawatts of reliable power for the state. But in 2013, the Legislature with NV Energy’s backing passed a bill moving Nevada away from coal power.

For most businesses, NV Energy’s push for expensive, unreliable power would lead to bankruptcy. But NV Energy has a monopoly. It receives a 9.5 percent return on equity. In other words, the more it builds, the more it makes. Little wonder it’s pushing for a host of expensive projects. It wants nearly $3 billion for the Greenlink transmission lines. In March, it asked for $1.5 billion for a solar project in Northern Nevada. In 2022, it asked for $466 million for a battery storage project in Humboldt County.

But don’t worry. Cannon said that as long as there isn’t a multi-state heat wave, NV Energy won’t have to beg customers to stop using power. Gulp.

Nevada ratepayers are experiencing the left’s green energy dream. Higher rates and less reliable energy while a politically connected company laughs all the way to the bank.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow

@victorjoecks on X.

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