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Consumer protection appeals approval of power plant

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

The Bureau of Consumer Protection has asked a district court to stop NV Energy from building a new power plant northeast of Las Vegas, arguing the Public Utilities Commission ignored a much cheaper alternative.

The company received PUC permission to build a new 484 megawatt natural gas generating plant at its Harry Allen Generating Station this past summer.

But Consumer Advocate Eric Witkoski argued the utility ignored the idea of buying the Apex combined cycle power plant instead. He said that would cost the company about $545 million instead of $780 million to build a new station.

“The commission’s order authorizes Nevada Power Company to construct a power plant that the weight of evidence indicates will be over $200 million more expensive (after all costs are considered) than a viable alternative,” the petition for judicial review argues.

The petition says the PUC refused to look at the Apex alternative.

Consumer Advocate Eric Witkoski said the potential availability of Apex came up during the hearings on the proposal, prompting his office to ask the PUC to more thoroughly investigate that option.

“”We asked for a rehearing to hear more about this other plant,” he said. “It’s a big difference in price. A more than $200 million impact on ratepayers is substantial.”

The petition in Carson District Court asks the court to stop NV Energy from moving ahead on the project and to order PUC to reconsider the Apex case.

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.