The Valmi Power Plant in Humboldt County is home to Nevada’s last coal-fired power facility. (NV Energy) The NV Energy headquarters building is seen Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Bijuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada may have to rely on coal power longer than anticipated after the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denied it permission to implement a $466 million battery energy storage system, prompting officials to call it the last coal-based power plant in the state. Shutting down the power plant would help.
On Friday, the PUC amended NV Energy’s three-year “Integrated Resource Plan,” seeking approval of two geothermal projects in northern Nevada, several smaller transmission projects and Valmy Power’s Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Went. The station, which will have 200 MW power.
The PUC unanimously approved two geothermal projects, which require $33.5 million in new transmission infrastructure, and six other transmission projects that would cost $11.02 million to build. But it ruled out battery storage systems because of the uncertain future of the Valmy plant’s coal and solar operations.
Valmi’s uncertain future
NV Energy had planned to add two solar projects – Hot Pot and Iron Point – to the Valmy plant, which would have allowed the company to stop using coal there. The Humboldt County power plant, the state’s last coal-fired plant, will be retired in 2025.
But that plan — which would add 600 MW of electricity and 480 MW of energy storage — is running into roadblocks, according to testimony filed with the PUC. As a result, NV Energy may have to continue using coal at Valmi longer than planned.
“At present, it does not appear that the projects (Hot Pot and Iron Point) will be able to proceed as approved by the commission,” Shane Pritchard, NV Energy’s director of renewables and generation, said in a filed testimony.
The Iron Point solar project was to have 250 MW of power and 200 MW of storage and was due to go online in December 2023. The Hot Pot project was to become operational a year later and provide 350 MW of electricity and 280 MW of storage.
“NV Energy has worked hard with the developers of Hot Pot and Iron Point to get the projects completed as approved,” said Katie Nannini, NV Energy spokesperson. “However, according to the developers, these projects will no longer proceed as approved.”
Both projects are being developed by Primargy Solar, which was optimistic about the completion of both.
“Primergy Solar is excited about continuing to develop utility-scale projects in Nevada and successfully pursuing the Hot Pot and Iron Point solar projects,” Primergy Solar spokeswoman Jen Fletcher said in an emailed electronic statement.
Primargy Solar did not respond to NV Energy’s statement that it has doubts about the development of the two projects or give reasons as to why there could be delays. The PUC order indicates that the development problems are due to recruitment issues.
“With respect to the Hot Pot and Iron Point projects… NV Energy continues discussions with the developer, who has not been able to complete the acquisition in a timely manner due to price increases due to recent solar and energy storage market volatility Provided further that at a price consistent with the price approved by the Commission”, the PUC order said.
In its plea, NV Energy argued that since Hot Pot and Iron Point are unlikely to go ahead, Valmi’s BESS is important because it can provide energy flexibility while the company studies the future of power generation at the plant.
“Walmy’s BES” is capable of providing much needed capacity and local reliability services, as well as helping to integrate intermittent renewable resources, regardless of the future of Iron Point, Hot Pot or existing Valmy units, Pritchard said in the statement. does.
Critics of the project claimed that it was an incomplete solution to the energy challenges posed by the potential delay or cancellation of the two solar projects.
“NV Energy has only added 200MW BESS to the mix at the last minute as a stopgap measure as two of its larger proposed solar projects, Hot Pot and Iron Point, are either at risk or have failed,” Paul Maguire, Director Said engineering the regulatory staff of the PUC in the testimony presented.
In its order, the PUC rejected the battery energy storage system as it would not provide a complete solution to Valmi’s failure to deploy two solar projects on time to replace coal-fired generation.
The order said approving Valmi’s BESS project would be “premature and inappropriate”.
The commission said it wanted more information on the future of the Valmi plant before regulating future projects for the plant. It has asked NV Energy to outline a “complete solution” to decool the Valmy plant and an update on the Hot Pot and Iron Point solar projects.
Nannini said the company “will continue to evaluate all options to ensure a timely retirement of the Valmi coal plant will offer a solution to meet the energy needs of our northern Nevada customers.”