The Nevada Independent outlines the decision of NV Energy to invest in a new natural gas peaking plant, quoting Sarah Steinberg on how this decision isn't cost effective for Nevadans and prevents further investment in advanced energy alternatives.
At times of peak energy use — often the hottest summer days when everyone is turning on the A/C at once — Western utilities, including NV Energy, have issued emergency alerts. They have urged customers to conserve energy and reduce demand. During these times, utilities have had to import energy from out of state, calling on a crowded regional market when prices can spike.
NV Energy is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to approve a large battery storage system on the site of the Valmy coal plant in northern Nevada and a portfolio of geothermal plants. But in the short-term, the utility is banking on natural gas to fill the gap when demand peaks.
In many cases, the natural gas peaking plant would likely replace other carbon-emitting sources of power. When demand has peaked in the past, NV Energy has had to dip into an emergency supply at the Valmy coal plant. Clean energy groups argued the utility did not fully examine other emission-free options, including programs to reduce demand.
Sarah Steinberg, a policy director for Advanced Energy United, which represents businesses pushing for clean energy, called on the utility to take a more “holistic approach” to planning for summer peaks, echoing the organization’s formal comments to the commission.
The group wrote that “NV Energy is giving short shrift to a decision with significant implications for the state’s energy, economic, and environmental future — a decision that threatens to lock-in high capital costs and volatile fuel costs from out-of-state markets and lock-out investment in cleaner, more cost-effective, and more consumer-empowering advanced energy alternatives.”
The utilities commission staff outlined issues facing the state, including a gap in electricity that has forced NV Energy to look for power on a saturated market and exposed the state to shortages. In addition, two solar and battery storage projects have been taken out of the utility’s supply portfolio, highlighting a need for more generation over the next few summers.
Read the full article here.