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Nevada Moves From Coal to NatGas, Renewables For Power Generation

Drawing praise from its senior U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada's sole large private-sector power utility has accelerated its move away from coal and to natural gas and renewable-based electricity supplies, it said Monday.

Las Vegas-based NV Energy on Monday submitted a proposal to state regulators to close its last coal-fired unit at its Reid Gardner plant at Moapa by late February and replace it with solar and natural gas-fired generation.

Since a 2013 state law (SB 123), Nevada has been on an accelerated path to close its coal-fired generation, and three of the four units were shut at Reid Gardner in 2014 (see Daily GPIMay 24, 2013). Originally, the last unit at Reid Gardner was slated to close at the end of 2017.

In a filing to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC), NV Energy said it would be replacing the lost 250 MW of coal-fired generation with 100 MW of solar-generated supplies from Nevada's Eldorado Valley and purchasing a gas-fired power plant in Arizona, Calpine Corp.'s 530 MW South Point Energy Center in Mohave Valley, AZ.

In its Emissions Reduction and Capacity Replacement second amendment filing to the PUC, NV Energy requested approval of a 100 MW solar project in Boulder City, NV, and an earlier retirement date for the remaining 257 MW unit at the Reid Gardner.

This is "the next step in the transformation of NV Energy's fuel mix, moving to a cleaner, more balanced generation portfolio," a Las Vegas-based spokesperson said. The latest move is aligned with the state legislature's 2013 directive (SB 123) for the orderly retirement of coal-fired generation, and it is supported by further plans by NV Energy to exit its participation in Arizona's coal-fired Navajo Generating Station by the end of 2019.

NV Energy Senior Vice President of Energy Supply Kevin Geraghty called the proposed Techren Solar LLC plan to build a 100 MW high-efficiency single-axis solar photovoltaic project in Eldorado Valley "one of the lowest-cost solar projects in the nation." Geraghty cited estimated costs of 4 cents/KWh.

NV Energy officials are emphasizing that their Nevada customers are already benefiting from more than 40 separate renewable projects: solar, geothermal, wind, hydro and other renewable energy technologies, all being produced in Nevada. More than 300 MW of new solar energy is in the construction stage in the state, including the Techren Solar project, which would bring NV Energy's total renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

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