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VICTOR JOECKS: Ratepayers pay and pay for green pipedream

A huge corporation is about to fleece Nevadans for billions of dollars. Democrats couldn’t be happier.

NV Energy recently upped the estimated cost of its transmission project, dubbed Greenlink Nevada. The company, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, once said it would cost around $2.5 billion. In February, it pushed the price up to $2.9 billion. Now, it says the price will be $4.2 billion.

For most companies, cost overruns like these could lead to bankruptcy. But not NV Energy. It’s a monopoly that receives a return on equity of 9.5 percent. The more it spends, the more it makes. John Tsoukalis, an energy consultant with The Brattle Group, projected Greenlink will hike NV Energy’s revenues by more than $900 million over its lifetime.

This is not the free market. When firms compete, profit is a company’s reward for best meeting the demands of customers. Earnings aren’t guaranteed in perpetuity. But in Buffett’s monopoly, additional profit comes from forcing customers to pay more.

One might expect that Democrats would be vocally opposed to an out-of-state company exploiting Nevadans. Not in this case.

Greenlink wouldn’t be necessary if it weren’t the renewable portfolio laws championed by leftists, specifically green energy supporters. Nevada law requires that 50 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. The Legislature passed that standard 2019. In 2018 and 2020, voters approved putting it in the state constitution. Elected Republicans haven’t covered themselves in glory either. Most have gone along meekly rather than trying to stop these massive and predictable price hikes.

Green energy, however, has a big problem. It’s not reliable. In a November 2023 report, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council noted that Western power providers intend to retire lots of natural gas- and coal-powered plants in future years and replace them with “variable resources,” such as solar and wind.

“Variable resources cannot be called on and dispatched to meet demand the same way traditional resources can,” the report states. Accordingly, “current resource plans are not sufficient to meet future demand over each of the next 10 years.”

Specifically, “starting in 2026, the number and magnitude of demand-at-risk hours increase by orders of magnitude,” the report reads.

Translated: The possibility of rolling blackouts is going to explode in a couple of years thanks to governments pushing green energy.

The obvious answer is to build reliable power plants that can keep the lights on. NV Energy knows how to do this. It currently wants $573 million to build two new natural gas turbines. But because 50 percent of Nevada’s energy is supposed to be “renewable” by 2030, the company wants Greenlink to move renewable energy from one part of the state to another.

That’s it. That’s why you’ll be paying $4.2 billion — plus interest. An attempt to mitigate the unreliability of green energy. So much for the savings promised by renewable portfolio standard supporters.

The idea that green energy can reliably and affordably meet the state’s energy needs is a scam. This one project alone is going to needlessly cost ratepayers billions.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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