Renewable Energy Grows in Nevada

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Special advertising supplement to the Reno News & Review.

Green power is gaining momentum in Nevada. By 2015, over 15 percent of Nevada’s electricity will be supplied by renewable energy sources – mostly solar, geothermal power and wind.

As the utility for nearly all of Nevada, including Reno-Sparks and Las Vegas, NV Energy is working diligently to exceed Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), said Tom Fair, vice president of Renewable Energy for NV Energy.

Twenty six states and the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, Nevada’s requirement is among the nations most ambitious. State law also specifies that at least one percent of Nevada’s total energy supplies must be from solar power by the 2015 deadline.

In addition, up to 25 percent of the state’s requirement can be fulfilled with kilowatts that are saved by NV Energy’s energy efficiency and conservation programs.

“We have a natural advantage compared to many states because Nevada has diverse supplies of renewable resources, especially geothermal, solar and wind that can be tapped to produce electricity,” Fair said, adding that the utility currently has contracts for over 500 megawatts of renewable energy, including projects that are under development.

NV Energy in northern Nevada, formerly known as Sierra Pacific Power, has been using geothermal energy — power produced by underground hot water and steam deposits — since the 1980s, starting with the Desert Peak geothermal pilot plant northeast of Reno. The company currently buys energy from 15 geothermal plants, all in northern Nevada, and three new geothermal plants totaling 120 megawatts are under construction.

In southern Nevada, NV Energy has two large solar power plants in its portfolio – Nevada Solar One, a 64-megawatt solar thermal plant near Boulder City, and a 14-megawatt photovoltaic generating plant located at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. Both are among the largest facilities of their type in the U.S.

Fair said more solar is on the way. NV Energy recently announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with a solar power company for the potential development of one or more large-scale solar power facilities in southern Nevada. The initial project being considered is a 250-megawatt solar thermal plant that would include thermal storage, enabling the plant to continue producing electricity at night. This would be the first use of thermal solar energy storage in the U.S.

Last year, NV Energy finalized a joint development agreement with Renewable Energy Systems Americas for a 200-megawatt wind energy project in northeastern Nevada near Jackpot. Pending regulatory approvals, construction of the wind turbines could begin in 2011.

Fair said NV Energy is also working to facilitate renewable energy development with its proposal to construct a high voltage electric transmission line that will link the electric systems in northern and southern Nevada for the first time. The proposed power line, called One Nevada Transmission Line or “ON Line,” will stretch for approximately 250 miles from the Ely area to a substation near Las Vegas.

Special advertising supplement to the Reno News & Review.