NV Energy CEO touts progress on renewables, reliability and cost control
MINDEN — The CEO of NV Energy said Wednesday the utility is on track to reach 50 percent renewables well ahead of schedule, has one of the nation’s most reliable electric services and stable pricing for residential and commercial power.
Doug Cannon made the statements before a crowd of about 50 at the Northern Nevada Development Authority’s monthly meeting at the Carson Valley Inn.
He said when talking to companies looking to move to Nevada, the utility hears three common themes: renewables, reliability of the energy supply and price.
He applauded the 2019 Nevada Legislature for passing legislation mandating that 50 percent of NV Energy’s power come from renewable sources by 2030 but said the company is ahead of that schedule.
“We will be able to achieve the 50 percent standard well before 2030,” he said.
At the same time, he said the utility is getting out of the coal burning business.
“By the end of this year, we will have retired all coal generation in southern Nevada,” he said adding that the one remaining coal-fired plant in the north — Valmy — will shut down by 2025.
He said there are more than 50 renewable energy projects in the state including geothermal in the north but a lot of solar.
“At least today here in the state of Nevada I’d say solar is king for us,” Cannon said.
He said that includes three projects in the north and three in the south including NV Energy’s first 100-megawatt battery installation.
He said solar also has a major advantage in that it’s cost is stable, unlike natural gas prices which can spike and can’t be predicted. Stable prices, he said, help businesses plan into the future.
He said batteries are important because solar’s peak generation comes between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. but peak use of electric power is between 5-7 p.m. Batteries, he said, can bridge that gap reducing the need to build new gas power plants.
On the subject of reliability, he said that, “99.9 percent of the time, the lights do stay on.”
“We have a very reliable system in the state of Nevada,” he said. “That’s a tribute to the great crews we have.”
But he said there is work being done to update the grid in the north, which is older than in the south. That includes a new Brunswick substation in Carson City and plans to rebuild and modernize the line south of Carson to Douglas County and to build a completely new Buckeye substation in the Carson Valley.
On the subject of price, he pointed to a report released in July ranking Nevada number one nationally for price reduction between 2009 and 2018.
“We have not asked to increase our revenues in over a decade,” he said adding that the utility’s rate case before the PUC right now recommends a $5 million decrease in revenues.
He said some might look at their power bills and point to what appear to be increases are pass-through fuel costs and add-ons for legislatively mandated programs like roof-top solar.
“We want to keep our prices low so you can use your funds to build your business because, at the end of the day, building your business builds our business,” he said.
Cannon’s update on the subject of the electric grid will be followed at NNDA’s next monthly meeting by a discussion on natural gas in the state by officials from Southwest Gas.