(Thomas Mitchell/4TH ST8) With the calendar pages about to eclipse another month on the way to the deadline for Harry Reid’s ChiCom buddies to close a deal on 9,000 acres of cut-rate public land near Laughlin for their proposed multibillion-dollar solar power facility, Harry appears to be getting a bit anxious.
On Monday during a live-streaming Facebook public appearance with questions via Twitter to promote next week’s National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 at the Bellagio, the Senate majority leader was asked about the status of the ENN Solar project. He immediately dumped on the state’s publicly regulated power company.
“That would start tomorrow if NV Energy would purchase the power. …” he said. “NV Energy could do that. It would be so good for Nevada. … But NV Energy is more interested in other types of power and they don’t control the facility. So we’re working hard. I would hope NV Energy would be willing to do this. They haven’t been willing to work on this and that’s such a shame.”
Though he was mumbling a bit by this point, he seemed to imply that the Public Utility Commission was reluctant to move on the project either.
He later flatly stated, “The biggest obstacle we have to renewable energy is NV Energy.” His moderator chuckled and moved on to the next question.
Asked for a response, NV Energy replied that it currently exceeds its legislatively mandated renewable energy purchases by 10 percent and has no plans to seek further renewable power supplies until 2014.
By my estimate, that contract with Clark County for the Laughlin land expires sometime around September 2013, though the Review-Journal today quotes Bloomberg Businessweek as saying the deal is voided if it can’t find a power customer by next June.
ENN Solar’s representative, former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Dick Byran, said in December 2011 the company had 21 months to negotiate purchase power agreements with whatever power company might be willing to take the electricity produced by the facility or the land reverts to the county. Harry’s son Rory also worked with Bryan on the deal. The sale price was $4.5 million even though the land had been appraised at $29 million to $38 million. ENN estimated the project would create more than 500 jobs.
NV Energy specifically reported:
“NV Energy exceeded the portfolio standard for 2011 by more than 10 percent (16.7 percent vs. 15 percent) and it is expected that the company will be well above the statutory requirement again this year. The company has an exemplary record nationally and continues to meet these requirements in a cost-effective manner.
“NV Energy recently submitted an integrated resource plan for its southern utility which seeks to issue new renewable RFPs (request for proposal) of up to 250 MW in 2014 and 2015 if they can demonstrate value for our customers. NV Energy would certainly welcome a bid from ENN when we issue the next RFP and their success, like all other projects, would be dependent on the benefits, especially price, that they can demonstrate for the customers of NV Energy.
“NV Energy has long sought to primarily rely on competitive RFP solicitations to give all project developers the opportunity to compete fairly and demonstrate the merit of their projects. Most importantly, this approach has been vetted with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada and we continue to believe that this yields the best results for our customers.”
Make note of the phrase “especially price.” Price is no object to Harry and his “green” energy cronies and campaign contributors. After all, we pay the price.
According to current industry cost comparisons, natural gas and coal cost about 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Geothermal runs 8 to 10 cents per Kwh. Both can operate around the clock. Wind costs 8 to 10 cents per Kwh. Utility-scale solar photovoltaic runs 11 to 13 cents per Kwh. Both wind and solar require backup generation capacity for when the wind doesn’t blow, the clouds roll by or at night.
Oddly enough, Reid made no mention of the fact that Laughlin is on the California border near major transmission lines and much was made of the potential to sell solar power to California. Nor did he mention that at his green energy summit last year that California Gov. Jerry Brown flatly stated that he has no plans to become a green energy importer and was on track to cover his state’s renewable portfolio and possibly export green power. All the blame was reserved for NV Energy, and none for the power companies in Southern California.
This was not the first time Reid aimed his ire at his home state power company. On Sam Shad’s Nevada Newsmakers television show in April he called NV Energy executives liars and let the PUC off the hook:
“I don’t think NV Energy has done enough to allow renewable energy to thrive. I think a lot of the things they blame, not having the purchase-power agreements, has been based on what they say the Public Utilities Commission won’t do. It is simply not true. I have spoken to commissioners myself, and I think that if NV Energy wanted to do more with renewable energy, they could.”
Despite Reid’s rant the power company this year plans to bring online about 300 megawatts of renewable power from solar projects in Primm and Apex to windmills in Spring Valley.
Reid also mentioned the power company’s One Nevada transmission line from Apex to Ely, partly intended to link renewable power sources, had been delayed by wind damage.
In a recent 10K report NV Energy said the cost of the project has ballooned from $510 million to $552 million to cover measures to fix specially designed towers that were damaged by wind-induced vibration. ON Line is now expected to be online by Dec. 31, 2013.
(Additional graphics available at 4TH ST8.)