Do the math and find out who benefits from proposed Moapa solar panel project

NV Energy’s Southern Nevada division, Nevada Power, is asking the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its rejection of a proposed $438 million, 200-megawatt solar panel project on the Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation.

Approving the Moapa project “reduces the impact of retiring and replacing coal-fired generation on customers, provides value to customers through incremental fuel diversity, generates construction jobs in 2015, and yields a net positive impact on Nevada’s economy,” the Review-Journal account quotes the utility as arguing.

NV Energy says it needs more generating capacity to replace that lost due to the legislatively mandated shut down of its Reid Gardner coal-fired plant. According to NV Energy, that plant has a 557 megawatt capacity.

Though the PUC nixed the Moapa solar project, it did approve the utility buying two existing gas-generated plants in North Las Vegas that can produce up to 496 megawatts of electricity and the purchase of a 15-megawatt solar project at Nellis Air Force Base. That covers most of the lost capacity right there, leaving the company only 46 megawatts short, not 200 megawatts.

PUC documents say the shortage is actually 54 megawatts. No need to quibble. Besides the PUC says that shortfall, when it is needed, can be provided by spending on $85 million, not $438 million.

The PUC determined approval of the Moapa solar plant would have cost ratepayers $50 million in 2017 alone, which “may have a significant effect on the creation of jobs in Nevada.” So much for creating jobs, as NV Energy and Harry Reid claim.

PUC Commissioner David Noble said, “Paying for generating capacity that is not needed places unnecessary costs on ratepayers.”

But monopoly NV Energy, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, earns its profits by being allowed about a 10 percent return on equity. The more equity, the more profits. The ratepayers shoulder all the risk and cost.

Obama and Reid look at solar panels at Nellis AFB.

As for that Nellis solar power, Harry Reid once bragged about how the solar array was saving the Air Force $1 million in power bills. He neglected to note that the installation cost $100 million. The return on investment would take 100 years for solar panels that have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.

Does NV Energy think its customers are this gullible?

Can I get all my power from the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant in Moapa? (Photo by Kent Harper)

Here is the lede on an Associated Press story posted on several television station websites in northern Nevada:

“Northern Nevada customers of the state’s largest utility now have the option of getting all their electricity from renewable sources.”

The story goes on to say NV Energy has announced that customers can opt to get 50 percent or 100 percent of their electricity from renewable resources, though sadly this planet saving service is not yet available in southern Nevada.

But this “green” program will cost you some green because green energy costs more to generate. The AP tells us a typical residential customer using 746 kWh a month will have to pay an additional $15.70 a month to get half of the home’s power from renewables, while 100 percent will cost $31.40 more.

It turns out those new smart meters must be really, really smart. If a power line runs down my street, and I participate in this green program but my neighbor doesn’t, how does it know which clean electrons to deliver to my house and which dirty ones to deliver to my neighbor.

Will NV Energy come up with a billing system in which I can opt to buy only cheaper power from coal-fired plants while they last?

A press release on the NV Energy website perpetrates this hoax further.

“Many customers, big and small, have expressed an interest in buying more renewable energy. This gives them a new way to do that. This option will be especially helpful for those who want to be greener, but did not have easy options that suited their circumstances, such as renters and students. This new program is as simple as going to the NV Energy website and signing up,” declares Bobby Hollis, the executive in charge of NV Energy’s renewable energy programs with an apparently straight face.

The upcharge amounts to an additional 4.2 cents per kWh.

The press release then switches from saying customers would be “buying” green energy to saying they would be “investing” in it — perhaps a bit more accurate term. NV Energy’s current green energy mix in northern Nevada is 85 percent geothermal, 10 percent solar and 5 percent hydroelectric energy. The company was required to “invest” in this green power by law.

The press release continues:

“Hollis said that customers who select one of the NV Green Energy options will be helping develop new renewable energy projects in Nevada sooner than would occur if renewable energy was only being used to meet the minimum requirements of Nevada’s renewable energy law. At present, 18 percent of the electricity produced in Nevada is required to come from renewable energy. Nevada law requires that 25 percent of the total must be from renewable energy sources by 2025.  Renewable energy purchased by customers participating in the NV Green Energy rate will add to that amount and require more renewable energy use in Nevada.”

So if you would like to make a donation to NV Energy’s future owner, Warren Buffett, go to NV Green Energy Choice and sign up.