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Nevada Gas Use to Expand Faster Than North America, Study Says

North American natural gas over the next 20 years will expand in use, price and power generation, and in Nevada the pace will be even brisker, according to a consultant's study done last year and made public this month by Sierra Pacific Resources' two Nevada private-sector utilities. The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has had a confidential version of the report since June.

Sierra Pacific Power Co. and Nevada Power Co. made presentations Wednesday on the study "North American Continent Gas Supply and Gas Transport" to the PUC. An Arlington, VA-based firm, Energy and Environmental Analysis Inc. (EEA), compiled the data last year as part of the utilities integrated resource planning effort.

Like the rest of North America, which will add about 8 Tcf of gas use from now through 2025, Nevada's added thirst for gas is largely driven by power generation. The report said West Coast liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies eventually could have a major impact on Nevada's gas use -- both in terms of reliability and price.

"LNG North American imports are expected to grow from 600 Bcf in 2005 to more than 7 Tcf in 2025," the report sated. "West Coast LNG could displace other gas supplies into the Nevada market even if physical gas flow does not increase."

After a doubling of gas use in Nevada from 2000 to 2005, corresponding to a doubling of its power supplies, Nevada will double those numbers again by 2025, the EEA report said. Prices generally are expected to average about $6/MMBtu over the period, but some real dampening down to $5/MMBtu should take place after 2010 when more shipments of LNG get into the West.

Gas-fired power generation in Nevada doubled between 2000 and 2005, reaching 5.7 GW. It is expected to peak at about 8 GW in 2010, the EEA report said.

"The main purpose of this study was to create a general understanding of the supply, transport, and pricing dynamics in the North American natural gas market, and to assess the reliability of gas supply and transport for Nevada's gas consumers in the foreseeable future," EEA said.

Nevada's annual gas use is projected to grow from about 200 Bcf in 2005 to 400 Bcf in 2025, a growth rate of 3.4% annually (compared with a 1.6% annual growth rate for all of North America). About 80% of Nevada's incremental growth will take place in the southern half of the state.

Other conclusions of the study:

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