PUC chairwoman calls for gas summit | NevadaAppeal.com

PUC chairwoman calls for gas summit

The head of the Public Utilities Commission is calling for a summit next month to discuss how Nevada can ensure an adequate supply of natural gas in the future.

JoAnn Kelly said she would like leaders from Southwest Gas Corp. and Sierra Pacific Power Co. to meet with her staff and consultants to discuss both the supply and transport of gas to meet Nevada’s growing needs.

“There are staff concerns the supply basins of natural gas our two companies are drawing from are flattening out,” said Kelly on Friday. “After 2010, what is our strategy as far as supply and how are you bringing it into our state?”

She said Northern Nevada’s gas comes primarily from Canada but that country is using more and more of the gas to help coax crude oil from the ground. And, she said, California’s needs for that gas are growing as well.

The southern part of the state, she said, gets its gas entirely from wells in the Southwestern states.

Both north and south, she said, rely heavily on gas not only for residential and commercial heating but to generate electric power.

Southern Nevada, she said, uses gas to generate all but 18 percent of its electric power and, when Sierra Pacific fires up its new generator at Tracy, the north will be getting more than half its electricity from natural gas.

That demand, she said, drives up the cost to the residential consumer.

Kelly said with the demand especially in California growing, Nevada needs to start thinking about how to ensure an adequate supply and, hopefully, reasonable prices, now.

“We need to look down the road at how much California is going to take,” she said. “And we need to address issues of transportation as demand continues to increase.”

The September meeting, she said, will set the agenda for future meetings on the subject, which she said she anticipates will be held quarterly.

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