Guest Blog: Paul Caudill, CEO of NV Energy
[UPDATE April 20, 2016]: NV Energy has been named as one of the select group of energy companies that connected the most megawatts of solar energy to the power grid in the United States in 2015, earning a spot on the annual Top 10 utility solar lists compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), formerly the Solar Electric Power Association.
In survey results released April 12, NV Energy ranked No. 7 among investor-owned utilities. The company had added 224 megawatts of installed solar capacity in 2015 alone. The 2015 listings are the fourth time that NV Energy has made SEPA’s Top 10 list.
Our state is blessed with abundant renewable resources – solar in southern Nevada and geothermal in the north, which NV Energy has utilized on behalf of its customers since 1983. Today, we are exceeding our state’s renewable portfolio standard, with 1,186 megawatts of renewable generation serving our native load.
But we are not standing still on this record. In February, we celebrated the commissioning of the 15-megawatt Nellis Solar Array II, NV Energy’s first company-owned solar facility. Nellis will be the second U.S. Air Force Base with the capacity to be served fully, at peak, by renewable energy and we are proud to partner with them. This project will join eight other solar projects currently providing energy to our customers.
In addition, we recently received approval to move forward with two of the lowest-cost solar energy contracts in our company’s history, and have filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada for approval of two additional solar projects. By the end of this year, when the first two new projects go into service, the solar energy that NV Energy delivers to our customers will, for the first time, be the largest renewable energy source in Nevada.
These are low-cost resources that weren’t available even as recently as two years ago. We are now able to harness the power of the sun at prices that compete head-on with traditional forms of energy – like natural gas and coal. Not only do these new solar projects allow us to blend down the cost of older renewable contracts, helping lower rates for all our customers; they are creating much-needed Nevada jobs and allowing us to develop value propositions for our large customers through the Nevada GreenEnergy Rider tariff. This tariff ensures that costs associated with the renewable projects that serve specific customers will not negatively impact NV Energy’s other customers.
One of these customers is Switch Communications, the first southern Nevada customer to utilize the NV GreenEnergy Rider tariff. Switch will become 100 percent green through energy generated at the aptly named “Switch Station”, which will be built just north of Las Vegas.
Also, our recently announced partnership with the City of Las Vegas will allow the city’s retail load to be served by 100 percent renewable energy. Recently approved by the PUCN, the City of Las Vegas will use a portion of the Boulder Solar facility currently under construction in the Eldorado Valley of Boulder City, Nev., becoming the first city of its size in the U.S. to utilize 100 percent renewable energy for city operations.
We are proud to partner with these and other large customers to provide options that help them grow their Nevada-based businesses with new renewable energy resources and meet their green energy goals without impacting other customers.
This is an exciting time to be in the utility industry as we explore technologies and programs that will benefit our customers and further our state’s leadership in the development of renewable energy. I look forward to what 2016 holds.