Senate passes bill to retire NV Energy coal plants

THE Nevada senate has endorsed NV Energy’s proposal to close four coal-fired power plants and make a switch to renewable energy.

Staff Reporter

Senate bill 123 was approved unanimously and now moves to the Assembly.

The Associated Press reported that several revisions had been made to the bill but did not elaborate.

The bill initial draft bill called for the accelerated closure of three of the four units at Reid Gardner, the controversial 553MW coal plant in Moapa, by 2014.

The fourth unit would be left operating until 2017, after which the utility will have no coal plants operating in southern Nevada.

NV Energy would also end its contract with Navajo Generating Station’s coal-fired power by 2019.

The utility’s “NVision” plan mandates acquisition, construction and ownership of more than 2600MW of natural gas and renewable energy, along with transmission and gas lines related to that development, according to an Las Vegas Sun report.

Under the plan, Nevada’s coal plants would begin closing by the end of next year, and the company would accelerate investment in natural gas and renewable energy to replace the coal energy going offline, in a 60-40 split of natural gas and renewables.

According to the Las Vegas Sun the measure generated an outcry from the Public Utilities Commission, which feared it would shackle their ability to regulate the utility, and the Bureau of Consumer Protection, which argued the bill could lead to higher rate increases than projected by the utility.

Senator Kelvin Atkinson presented the bill and said lawmakers were able to broker a compromise among the various interests lobbying the bill, including scaling back the scope of what NV Energy would be mandated to build.

"This bill puts Nevada at the forefront of energy policy in this country," Atkinson said, arguing it does not "sacrifice regulatory oversight."

Opponents to the bill argue that it protects shareholders by shifting an exorbitant amount of risk to ratepayers.

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