The Coal Trader

Coal Mining Nevada Energy coal plant

Nevada Approves Gas-Fired Power Plants Despite Solar Project Delays

Nevada regulators approved several proposals from NV Energy, including the conversion of a coal plant to natural gas and the construction of a large solar-plus-storage facility, despite criticism from clean energy advocates.

Key points:

  • Gas projects approved:
    • Conversion of the 522-MW North Valmy coal plant to natural gas, with operation planned until 2049.
    • Extended operation of units 4 and 5 at the Tracy gas-fired plant until 2049.
  • Reasoning for gas projects:
    • Address resource adequacy concerns due to cancellations of several solar-plus-storage projects in mid-2023.
    • These cancelled projects include:
      • Primergy Solar’s Iron Point and Hot Pot projects (solar and battery storage)
      • Avantus’ Southern Bighorn projects (solar and battery storage)
      • EDF Renewables’ Chuckwalla project (solar and battery storage)
  • Approval of large solar project:
    • NV Energy’s request to purchase and operate the 400-MW Sierra Solar project with 400 MW/1,600 MWh battery storage was conditionally approved.
    • This project is expected to be the most expensive ever built by NV Energy, with a capped construction cost of $1.54 billion and an estimated 30-year levelized cost of $86.77/MWh.
  • Criticism:
    • Clean energy groups, like Advanced Energy United, criticized the decision, arguing that NV Energy should have focused on replacing the coal plant and gas units with clean energy instead of relying on gas.
  • Transmission projects:
    • Over $180 million in additional transmission infrastructure investments were approved, including upgrades to substations and transformers in Nevada.
  • Rejected proposal:
    • The commission denied NV Energy’s request to purchase the Crescent Valley solar project, citing the timing and recommending they consider it in their upcoming integrated resource plan filing.

Overall, this decision reflects the ongoing tension between meeting energy needs, environmental concerns, and cost considerations in the energy transition. While Nevada is taking steps towards clean energy with the approval of the Sierra Solar project, the continued reliance on gas-fired plants raises concerns about the state’s commitment to decarbonization goals. The rejected proposal for the Crescent Valley solar project further highlights the challenges in balancing different interests and ensuring a smooth transition to a clean energy future.

Source: TheCoalTrader, AI generated