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Nevada Current: First NV gas plant in 15 years gets expedited approval, customers likely to get the bill

Posted by Jennifer Solis on Mar 16, 2023

Nevada Current announces Nevada's plans to build a new power plant as a solution to building a more reliable energy source, including Sarah Steinberg's staunch disapproval as NVEnergy continues to cost ratepayers more dollars.

Nevada regulators have approved an NV Energy plan to build a natural gas-fired power plant they say will help address system reliability as weather grows more extreme and unpredictable across the region.

The energy monopoly will build a 400 MW gas-fired combustion turbine – or “peaker plant” – on the site of the Silverhawk Generating Station in southern Nevada to cover increasingly volatile seasonal peak demand. The gas plant would be the first built in Nevada in nearly 15 years.

Peak plants typically only run a few hundred hours of the year – or sometimes even less. Most of the year the plant sits idle and unused. The Silverhawk plant will be allowed to operate up to 700 hours annually.

Advanced Energy United and other advocacy groups testified against NVEnergy’s plan to build the gas-fired plant, arguing that the cost would be passed on to customers. NV Energy estimates the 400 megawatt expansion of the Silverhawk Generating Station would cost $333 million.

“This gas plant is only meant to run a few hundred hours a year, which means it will sit idle most of the time. But Nevadans will be paying for it on their monthly bills for the next 30 years, regardless of whether or not it runs,” said Sarah Steinberg, director at Advanced Energy United

Unlike rising costs of fuel, which utilities must pass through directly to consumers without adding a mark-up to the price, utilities are allowed to earn a profit from infrastructure investments.

“NV Energy said itself that this option is not least-cost. We are disappointed that the utility did not fully consider other, cleaner solutions, such as energy demand reduction, distributed energy, and storage, that could meet the same need, or even improve reliability and resilience, at lower cost,” Steinberg continued.

Conservation groups argued the gas-fueled plant runs counter to Nevada’s stated goal of achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050.

Peaker plants are also disproportionately located near or in low-income communities and communities of color, exposing families to air and water pollution, according to a recent analysis by Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a non-profit research institute.

Read the full article here.

Topics: United In The News, Sarah Steinberg, Nevada