Nevada PUC approves long-term contracts between Nevada Power, solar projects

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada has given its approval for plans by NV Energy utility Nevada Power for long-term power agreements with two 100-MW solar energy projects being developed in the state.

The Nevada PUC approved the proposals by the companies, which are part of the Berkshire Hathaway Energy corporate family, to enter into two different 20-year power purchase agreements.

The PUC on Sept. 9 approved a negotiated settlement between various parties in Docket No. 15-07003.

One power contract involves Boulder Solar, a 100-MW solar project in Boulder City, Nev., which is being developed by SunPower. The SunPower project was the top selection from an October 2014 RFP and is expected to generate more than 289,000 MWh of renewable energy  in its first full year of service.

The other contract involves a 100-MW project being developed by First Solar affiliate Playa Solar 2 in Clark County, Nev. The Playa project is located in the Solar Energy Zone in Clark County, Nev. “This project was the top selection from the January 2015 RFP” and is forecast to generate roughly 307,800 MWh of renewable power  in its first full year of operation, according to a draft order from the PUC.

The parties have recommended that the Nevada PUC find the terms and conditions of the PPAs contract “just and reasonable.”

Nevada Power filed an application July 1 seeking approval of an amendment to its Emissions Reduction and Capacity Replacement Plan (ERCR) seeking approval of a 100-MW purchased power agreement with Boulder Solar (SunPower) executed pursuant to the 2014 ERCR request for proposals and of a 100-MW PPA with Playa Solar 2 executed under the 2015 RFP.

Within days, the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection filed a notice of intent to intervene.

The parties agreed that by approving the SunPower PPA the PUC is not authorizing Nevada Power to exercise its “purchase option” under the contract. In order to obtain PUC approval to buy the facility the company would need to request approval in a subsequent integrated resource plan (IRP) or IRP amendment.

As is the case with SunPower, Nevada Power would have to go through the IRP process before being approved to actually buy the First Solar facility.

In both cases, the parties recommended that the PUC approval the contract after taking into consideration the cost of the contract to Nevada Power customers; economic benefits to Nevada and job opportunities for Nevadans.

On Aug. 6, the Nevada PUC held a prehearing conference and appearances were made by various parties.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.