Clean Energy Advocates Celebrate Approval of NV Energy’s Plans to Significantly Increase Renewable Generation, Retire Coal Unit Ahead of Schedule
NV Energy’s three-year action plan is in line with the company’s pledge to boost energy production from renewable sources and shift away from fossil fuels
On Dec. 21, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved NV Energy’s 2019-2038 Triennial Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), and the decision was recognized as a significant step for the state’s future by four clean energy groups—the Sierra Club, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Western Resource Advocates, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The IRP approved by the Commission, also referred to as NV Energy’s Low Carbon Case, will add 1,001 MW of new solar photovoltaic projects and 100 MW of battery storage, allowing the utility to more than double its total renewable generation from 14 percent in 2017 to 32 percent by 2023. The approved plan also provides NV Energy with the authority to retire the aging North Valmy Unit 1 coal unit at the end of 2021 – four years ahead of schedule.
North Valmy Units 1 and 2 are the last utility-owned coal units in Nevada. Analyses from the Sierra Club, Idaho Power, and NV Energy have found that retiring one or both North Valmy units ahead of schedule to be the most cost-effective option for NV Energy customers. A 2016 report from the Sierra Club estimated that retiring both Valmy units and pursuing clean energy alternatives would save Nevada ratepayers at least $30 million.
"Nevadans made very clear last election they want more clean energy, and this early retirement announcement for the North Valmy coal plant helps us get there," said Elspeth DiMarzio, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign representative for Nevada. “Replacing the Valmy coal plant with new clean energy will save Nevadans tens of millions of dollars, create new jobs, and clear toxic pollution from our air and water. Closing this coal plant early is the right thing to do for Nevadans, and we are thrilled to see the Commission and NV Energy take this step.”
“We commend the Public Utility Commission of Nevada for reflecting the will of the people with its approval of this resource plan,” said Tom Polikalas, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project’s Nevada representative. “Expanding and sustaining NV Energy’s energy efficiency programs, along with the large scale deployment of solar energy resources, provides a path for more affordable energy bills, job creation, and a cleaner environment."
“NV Energy’s IRP will develop our state’s abundant solar resources while significantly reducing the utility’s carbon emissions, which are a key driver of climate change,” said Robert Johnston, Western Resource Advocates senior staff attorney in Nevada. “Today’s decision will allow NV Energy to deliver on their promise to produce more energy from renewable sources, and put them on pace to achieve the ‘50 percent by 2030’ renewable goal, which Nevada voters overwhelmingly endorsed during the 2018 election. Closing the aging coal unit early and taking advantage of more economic clean energy sources will provide rate stability, improve public health, and spur local job creation.”
“This decision brings Nevada closer to the clean energy future that customers want,” said Dylan Sullivan, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and their lead advocate in Nevada. “We should expect similar clean energy plans and follow-through from the electricity providers that serve the big customers that are ‘exiting’ NV Energy’s system.”
The IRP does not change NV Energy’s plan to retire North Valmy Unit 2 by the end of 2025.
Nevada has become a national leader in the transition to reliable and affordable renewable energy. During the 2018 midterm elections a strong majority of Nevadans approved Question 6, a constitutional initiative that would ramp up the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030. Question 6 must be approved by voters a second time in 2020 to take effect.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public-interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.swenergy.org.