Scaling back from original plans for a shift to more natural gas-fired generation, Nevada’s major utility, NV Energy, has submitted to state lawmakers a plan for dumping coal-fired generation, but so far the plan has stirred a political fight.

While Gov. Brian Sandoval has thrown his support to the utility, Nevada’s gaming industry, representing NV Energy’s largest customers, are voicing some serious concerns, and state lawmakers are listening to them. In public comments, the utility is downplaying the tension with its largest customers, and its chief lobbyist has told local new media that the legislation won’t pass if the gaming industry opposes it.

NV Energy’s proposal, dubbed “NVision,” was submitted to a state legislative committee earlier in April as part of a bill (SB 123) dealing with distributed renewable-based generation. SB 123 was passed by the Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee and is being reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee, and NVision as an amendment remains fluid, a Las Vegas-based utility spokesperson told NGI Thursday.

“The legislation has changed since its introduction and will continue to change during the legislative process,” the spokesperson said. Even watered down, it represents a major move away from coal by NV Energy.

In recent local news media coverage, a spokesperson for the governor and for other parties indicated that stakeholders are still trying to work out something all sides can support. Until that happens, it is unclear how far SB 123 will get. A Nevada Resort Association official representing the gaming industry said the association needed more time to review the proposal.

The plan calls for retiring three Nevada-based coal-fired units by the end of next year, and a fourth one by the end of 2017. In addition, the utility would divest its 11.3% share of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona by the end of 2019, a move similar to what the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has announced (see Daily GPI, April 19).

Originally, NV Energy’s proposal called for up to 2,000 MW of new gas-fired generation and billions of dollars in capital expenditures through 2021. That is now 750 MW, which has reduced the proposed capital expenditures by more than $1.6 billion.

Navajo’s power will be replaced by 200-250 MW of gas-fired supplies by summer 2021, the utility said. So far, it is silent on where and when the other 500 MW of gas-fired generation will be brought into the NV Energy mix.

For renewables, NV Energy proposes to build 150 MW between 2017 and 2021, and the utility will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for another 450 MW of renewable-based power as specified in the first draft of SB 123.

The legislation is silent on the already planned retirements of two other NV Energy coal-fired units in 2021 and 2025, but it does spell out ultimate veto power for all of these plans for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

“The commission has the power to reject the coal retirements and renewable RFP elements of the plan if the PUC finds that those actions would adversely affect NV Energy’s ability to provide reasonably adequate service to its customers,” the utility spokesperson said.

“The PUC has the power to review the natural gas buildout proposal to ensure that it has an appropriate mix of company-owned gas facilities, and the commission may adjust the timing of the in-service dates within the deadlines established by the legislation.”

Under the current SB 123 language, NV Energy is required to submit its plan to the PUC by April 2014.

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