(Nathan Emens) – Energy costs are a major expenditure for my business. Because of this, I am concerned with the Integrated Resource Plan that NV Energy recently filed with Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission.
In the filing, NV Energy stated it will face a “significant resource need” as early as 2018. A closer look at data buried deep in the filing reveals a shortfall of a whopping 15 percent of demand in 2018.
I worry that this can only mean higher energy costs for consumers in the very near future. How NV Energy proposes to deal with this supply shortfall is confusing.
On one hand, the company indicates one of the primary reasons for the shortfall is the expiration of a power purchase agreement with the Griffith Energy Plant in September 2017. On the other hand, NV Energy offers no explanation as to why it isn’t renewing this agreement. Instead, the stated plan is to “explore market-based solutions” (whatever that means) until it can build its own $1 billion plant and get it on line in 2020.
Is NV Energy intentionally creating this so-called power shortage as a ploy to raise our electric bills? Is the Griffith Energy Plant no longer available as a resource? Are the “market-based solutions” contemplated by NV Energy akin to the financial wizardry that put the company on the brink of bankruptcy about a decade ago?
And the biggest question of all: Is building a new plant and saddling consumers with the $1 billion price tag really the best plan for Nevada — or just the best plan for NV Energy’s new owner, Warren Buffett?
It is this type of game-playing that has led some major energy users in Nevada to consider abandoning their relationships with NV Energy and move to other sources of power. Unfortunately, most of us do not have that choice.
I certainly hope the PUC keeps these questions in mind as it considers the plan submitted by NV Energy. And more importantly, the PUC should force NV Energy to provide answers to these questions. The company should have to explain to all of us how it plans to provide affordable power to our state in the coming years if it already knows it won’t have enough power to meet our needs.
(Mr. Emens is a Las Vegas political consultant and adviser to Assembly Speaker John Hambrick. This column was originally published as a letter-to-the-editor in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on August 21, 2015.)