Take a close look at your most recent power bill. Look down to the itemized portion and find “Net electric.” Scroll to the right and you’ll see a number and KWH X .1185000 or some similar figure. That is the basic power price of 11.85 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Mine actually went down a couple of hundredths of a cent during the billing cycle, probably due to continued decline in the price of natural gas due to the supply glut due to the use of fracking to recover previously unrecoverable shale gas.
Now, write that 11.85 cents or whatever the figure is on your calendar, because it will be going up in the coming years. When it does, write a thank you note to Harry Reid and your state legislators.
Harry “Coal Makes Us Sick” Reid was one the chief opponents of a couple of coal-fired power plants that NV Energy planned to build near Ely, but backed off in the face of opposition from Harry and the environmentalists.
Instead, NV Energy is buying “green” energy from wind, solar and geothermal power plants at a cost double and triple or more the price of power from a coal- or natural gas-fired plants.
But even that isn’t good enough for Harry. A couple of weeks ago on Nevada Newsmakers he chastised NV Energy for not doing enough:
“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.”
NV Energy replied that it already has contracted for enough “green” juice to meet the legislatively mandated renewable portfolio standard through the year 2020 — by 2025 state law dictates 25 percent of the state’s electricity must come from “green” energy sources. This year alone the company will have 300 megawatts of new renewables coming on line.
In fact, this past week it was announced that SunEdison has hired a contractor to build a 25 megawatt photovoltaic panel solar farm on 154 acres of private land at the Apex Industrial Park north of Las Vegas. The company expects to begin delivering power during the second quarter of this year.
NV Energy’s 25-year contract with SunEdison has a wholesale price of 12.85 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Let’s see, we are currently paying 11.85 cents for retail and NV Energy will be paying a penny more wholesale. They must make it up in volume, right?
As the Institute for Energy Research points out in a recent report titled “Hard Facts,” the price of power from renewables far exceeds the price of fossil fuel generated power and will be for the foreseeable future. Actually, when you look at what IER says solar costs, it looks like NV Energy drove a pretty hard bargain.
As Tom Gray points out in today’s Investor’s Business Daily, innovators are trying to find ways for renewables to reach cost parity with fossil fuels, but it is still “somewhere beyond the range of current technology. The debate lies in how far out of reach it really is, and when or if it ever will be reached.”
The problem is that, despite the cost disparity, states are demanding that “green” power plants with 20- to 30-year power purchase contracts be built here and now, using tax beaks and subsidies — meaning the cost is absorbed in both rates and taxes, money that is sucked out of an already anemic economy.
And those subsidies are on the decline. Just this past month, the House of Representatives refused to extend production tax credits that have meant the difference between profit and loss for many commercial wind power projects.
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission has a chart showing renewable power projects currently in the works, many with contracts to sell power to NV Energy. The total is more than 900 megawatts that we ratepayers will be paying for one way or the other.
By the way, if you look up the data at the Federal Election Commission website, you’ll find a number of SunEdison executives are contributors to the Solar Energy Industries Association PAC, which has given $9,500 to Harry Reid’s election campaign.
Download the pdf here. PROPOSED GENERATION PLANTS IN NEVADA
The PUC today released the following prices for renewable power for the first year of the contracts with NV Energy. The contracts allow an annual increase of 1 percent per year.
Tuscarora Geothermal: 8.8 cents/KWh
Waste Management Lockwood: 8.1 cents/KWh
San Emidio Geothermal: 8.975 cents/KWh
Enel Stillwater Solar: 6.9 cents/KWh
Silver State Solar North: 13.2 cents/KWh
Apex Solar: 12.85 cents/KWh
Spring Valley Wind: 9.8 cents/KWh
McGinness Hills Geothermal: 8.6 cents/KWh
Spectrum Solar: 11.1 cents/KWh
Crescent Dunes Solar: 13.495 cents/KWh
Mountain View Solar: 11.605 cents/KWh
Clayton Valley Geothermal: 9.8 cents or 10.3 cents/KWh (Depending on whether the plant qualifies for a production tax credit.)
Dixie Meadows Geothermal: 9.2 cents/KWh