Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FW: Nevada Does U-Turn Away From Coal, Toward Renewables, Gas

The future of utility energy architectures is now cast.

Monty Bannerman
ArcStar Energy

-----Original Message-----
From: Rebecca Van Nichols []
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 4:31 PM
To: Monty Bannerman
Subject: Nevada Does U-Turn Away From Coal, Toward Renewables, Gas

04/05/2013 11:26 AM      ShareThis
Nevada Does U-Turn Away From Coal, Toward Renewables, Gas News

NV Energy, Nevada's largest utility, says it will close four coal plants
near Las Vegas and re-direct investments to renewable energy and natural

"Environmental regulatory uncertainty and aging coal generation facilities
have intersected at this point in time to necessitate forward thinking
innovative plans and solutions to address Nevada's future energy needs,"
says NV Energy.

In its first move to own and operate renewable energy plants, the utility
plans to build, acquire or contract for 600 megawatts (MW) of wind, solar
and geothermal projects over the next five years. 

Its investment in natural gas is bigger, however. NV Energy wants to build
or acquire 1,000 MW over the next five years and 1,000 MW more over the next
10 years. 

This "NV Vision" plan would raise utility rates by about 4% over the next 20
years, says NV Energy.

Paiute Indians have been pushing to close the coal plants for years because
tribal members are sick from the soot and gases.

"The facility's coal ash ponds and landfill leach toxics into the
groundwater, and dust from coal, coal ash and poisonous residues pollutes
our reservation day in, day out," tribal chairman William Anderson told the
Associated Press. 

The switch to natural gas and renewables will create about 4700 construction
jobs and about 200 permanent positions. 

Harry Reid (D-NV) has also been calling for the transition. Last year,
he released a report showing how federal legislation has spurred the growth
of renewable energy in Nevada, and what's needed to drive more investment.

His report highlights six projects that have contributed over $1 billion to
the state's economy, while adding over 2,200 renewable energy jobs.  

NV Energy's plan has to be approved by the state legislature.

In March, Los Angeles made a similar announcement - cancelling projects with
all coal plants and focusing on renewables.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

82% of New US Electrical Capacity is Renewable Energy

04/11/2013 03:54 PM      ShareThis
82% of New US Electrical Capacity is Renewable Energy News

During the first quarter of 2013, renewable energy accounted for 82% of new
electrical generating capacity in the US, and 100% in March. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says that 1546 megawatts
(MW) of renewables came online, along with 340 MW of natural gas. No new
coal, oil or nuclear capacity has been added this year so far. 

Six wind farms came online totaling 958 MW, 38 solar farms at 537 MM and 28
biomass plants added 46 MW. Four small hydro plants added 5.4 MW.

The solar added is more than double that of the first quarter last year.

Including hydro, renewable energy now accounts for almost 16% of US
electrical generating capacity: hydro - 8.53%; wind - 5.18%; biomass -
1.30%;  solar - 0.44%; and geothermal - 0.32%. This is more than nuclear
(9.15%) and oil (3.54%) combined. 

Note that generating "capacity" isn't the same as actual generation. In
terms of net electrical generation, renewables supply a bit more than 13%,
according to the US Energy Information Administration. 

In 2012, renewables accounted for almost half of all new electrical
generating capacity - 46.22%.

"These additions understate actual solar capacity gains. Unlike other energy
sources, significant levels of solar capacity exist in smaller,
non-utility-scale applications - e.g., rooftop solar photovoltaics," says



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Monday, April 8, 2013

Fwd: Nevada Utility to Shut Out Coal, Embrace Renewables | Renewable Energy News Article

Tectonic shift.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Rebecca Van Nichols" <>
Date: Apr 8, 2013 2:27 AM
Subject: Nevada Utility to Shut Out Coal, Embrace Renewables | Renewable Energy News Article
To: "Monty Bannerman" <>

Nevada Utility to Shut Out Coal, Embrace Renewables
By Meg Cichon, Associate Editor,
April 4, 2013   |   6 Comments

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New Hampshire, USA -- Nevada's major public utility NV Energy announced Wednesday that it plans to shutter its four coal plants in southern Nevada and increase its investment in renewable energy and natural gas. Three of its coal plants will be shut down by 2014, and the fourth is scheduled to close its doors by 2017. NV Energy is calling its proposal "NVision," and included it as an amendment in Senate Bill 123.

The plan calls for 553 megawatts of coal to be replaced with 40 percent renewable energy, which will consist of solar, wind and geothermal, and 60 percent natural gas. According to the bill, NV Energy must own and operate at least 25 percent of its 600-MW renewable share and construct or acquire 1,000 MW of natural gas in the next five years, and 1,000 additional MW of natural gas in the 10 years – all of which is to be produced in Nevada. NVision is expected to create 4,700 construction jobs and more than 200 permanent operations and maintenance positions in the next 12 years.

"This does three things: it retires coal from Nevada, builds renewables, and it creates jobs," said Tony Sanchez, NV Energy senior vice president in a statement.

Despite these benefits, several groups have criticized certain aspects of the plan. For example, NV Energy predicts that the plan will result in a 4 percent price hike for consumers over the next 20 years – but Dan Jacobsen of the Bureau of Consumer Protection told the Las Vegas Sun that he believes rates would go up by 8 percent in the next ten years. The bill calls for ratepayers to recover the costs for closing the coal plants and the construction operations and maintenance of the new renewable energy facilities. If the bill is enacted, these hikes would begin on the first day of the next financial quarter.

"We must stop putting coal pollution in the air, but we also need to make sure NV Energy doesn't use this as an excuse to take even more money from ratepayers to pad its already enormous profits," said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada to the Reno Gazette Journal. 

The Sierra Club released a statement arguing that while it is good news for Nevada to step away from coal, natural gas fracking is not a long-term answer. The organization believed that NV Energy should invest in more renewable generation and energy efficiency efforts, which it argues could counter price hikes.

"Energy efficiency can put money right back into the pockets of consumers every month," said Jane Feldman, Sierra Club state Energy Task Force chair. "And if we build more renewable energy, costs remain stable for decades because the fuel costs for solar, wind and geothermal are free."

If passed, the Public Utilities Commission would have 210 days to review the bill and request changes.

Lead image: Closed sign via shutterstock

Geothermal Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Power
6 Reader Comments

1 of 6
April 5, 2013
I agree with Ms Feldman of the Sierra club but would go one step further. For every dollar spent on future power projects, states and utilities should match it with a dollar spent on energy efficiency. In addition to improving the environment, freeing up money wasted on energy by end users would be a positive driver in local and state economies.

There are existing utility-based programs in place for energy efficiency, but in my area in Tennessee, the program involves a spaghetti of forms and energy audits. I wonder what the situation is like for energy efficiency programs in other areas of the country?

2 of 6
April 5, 2013
It would be interesting to know the ages of the 4 coal plants being shuttered. Are they older plants that are already nearing the end of their rated lifetimes? If so, we should question why the utilities are saying a large rate hike is needed to cover closing costs.

This section of the text is confusing: "The plan calls for 553 megawatts of coal to be replaced with 40 percent renewable energy and 60 percent natural gas. NV Energy must own and operate at least 25 percent of its 600-MW renewable share, and construct or acquire 1,000 MW of natural gas in the next five years..."

40% of 553 MW of retired coal targeted for new renewables would imply new renewables of 221 MW are needed if the percentages refer to capacity. Does the reference to "600-MW renewable share" refer to planned new capacity or does it include extant capacity? Does the phrase "must own" refer to some legal requirement or merely to some goal of the new plan? The article makes no reference to what type of renewables are planned; in NV the likely choices would be solar or geothermal power, but these have much different capacity factors, so it seems unusual to design growth targets based on capacity rather than production estimates.


3 of 6
April 5, 2013
Dear fellow renewable energy advocates,

Can't we all, just for once, simply be happy for ONE MINUTE that 4 coal plants are closing? Can't we just enjoy this small bit of progress without expressing alarm, concern, or reservations? Without suggesting things that NV Energy should do differently, or instead, or in addition?

There will be plenty of time for all of those things in a minute or two.

Bruce Karney
non-Nevadan environmental activist

4 of 6
April 5, 2013
I agree, Bruce. We do far too little celebrating of the progress we are making.

Yes, we need to be moving faster but we are moving and we are accelerating. Paying attention to our successes will make us feel better and make us more ready to take on the next challenge.

40% of 553 megawatts of coal production is being replaced with renewables. The other 60% with natural gas which is dispatchable. That means as the price of NG rises (as it will) utility companies will find it cost effective to install more wind and solar in order to lower their NG expenses. The gas capacity will be there to fill in until we develop less expensive storage.

220 megawatts of Nevada's generation will now be CO2 free. Solar and wind industries will be strengthened.

It's good.

5 of 6
April 5, 2013
Bruce writes in comment #3: "Can't we just enjoy this small bit of progress without expressing alarm, concern, or reservations?..."

If Bruce wants to close his eyes and dream happy thoughts rather than actually think that is fine by me, but he should not complain if others like to examine proposals before they become law and before a lengthy 210 day review period begins. It isn't clear if this article describes the proposal correctly, but if one replaces 40% of the old capacity with solar having a capacity factor of <25% you are really only going to get about 10% renewable generation and 90% of generation will come from fossil fuels. Is that really a good deal? Is coal capacity being retired early so that significant new fossil fuel capacity can be locked in for the long term? If so, I'm not sure an "environmental activist" should be especially happy. Does NV need new dispatchable power in the near future or are there other motivations for this reallignment? If utilization rates for this generation capacity are low consumers will get a socked with a hefty rate increase. CA is cutting back on the amount of coal generation they import from out of state and maybe NV has excess capacity now....

Bob writes in comment #4: "Solar and wind industries will be strengthened."
Are there any plans for new wind generation in NV? Certainly they don't have much extant capacity so it seems unlikely that new wind power will be part of this deal. Does Bob have evidence to support his claim or is he just engaging in psychic predictions?


6 of 6
April 5, 2013
Why can't we just be happy about NV Energy's p.r announcement about shutting down coal fired power plants? Because no one trusts this company here in NV! Horrible customer service (read yelp reviews) coupled with the HIGHEST kwh rate in the Intermountain West! They pushed through rate hikes during the recession because massive foreclosures meant less profits for investors (the only people they care about). The public utilities board is a lapdog and goes along despite massive outcry. NV Energy doesn't care about switching to renewables! I looked into solar for my house unfortunately you can only offset your bill plus a $10 a month fee. One extra panel and they will not meter it.

They want this to switch to move to natural gas which has more price fluctuations to charge more.

Don't be fooled!
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Meg Cichon

About: As associate editor of, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also res... more »
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Fwd: Solar Thermal is a Proven, Low-Cost Technology that Demands New Policy Incentives | American Solar Energy Society

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Rebecca Van Nichols" <>
Date: Apr 8, 2013 2:33 AM
Subject: Solar Thermal is a Proven, Low-Cost Technology that Demands New Policy Incentives | American Solar Energy Society
To: "Monty Bannerman" <>

Solar Thermal is a Proven, Low-Cost Technology that Demands New Policy Incentives
April 4, 2013

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Boulder, CO, April 3, 2013 Solar thermal systems could help utility load-balancing and reduce our dependence on natural gas for heating. But, panelists at the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Conference say, new incentives are required to scale the industry.

Solar thermal technology is simple, reliable and highly efficient, but it remains the less glamorous stepchild of the solar industry, losing out to more attractive incentives for investing in solar electric systems. In developing countries, solar thermal technology is widespread, often providing the only option for hot-water heating, but the U.S. lags far behind. In some states, Renewable Energy Standards - also known as Renewable Portfolio Standards - don't even include solar thermal. According to Mike Healy, Chair of the US Solar Heating and Cooling Alliance, there is an urgent need for new mechanisms to finance solar thermal that would provide predictable and stable incentives. Permitting regulations also need to be streamlined.

Compared to photovoltaic systems, which rarely reach more than 17% efficiency, solar thermal systems, which use the sun's heat directly, can reach efficiencies of up to 80%. They can be used for hot water heating, space heating and cooling, pool and spa heating, and industrial process heating. In a typical residence, solar thermal can handle the hot water and space heating, which can make up roughly 50% of the building's energy requirements. But, Sandra Lee of Skyline Innovations, a company specializing in solar thermal financing and project development, says metering of solar hot water systems is key to their ability to generate renewable energy credits and to measure the amount of utility energy offset by a solar thermal system.

While natural gas prices are just beginning to rise from an all-time low, it's hard for residential system owners to see rapid paybacks from their solar thermal systems. That's why, says Healy, the solar industry can benefit now by selling to businesses that now use large amounts of hot water from central boilers, such as laundries, hotels, hospitals, housing developments, food processing plants and microbreweries. Agricultural systems, including poultry farms and greenhouses, would also help scale the industry more rapidly than a policy focus on residential systems. Customers who heat using electricity, propane, or fuel oil also stand to benefit greatly from solar thermal systems.

Several panels will address solar thermal policy issues at SOLAR 2013. One panel will discuss the synergies between solar PV and solar thermal in several utility portfolios, and present a study that has measured effects on peak-load pricing and solar thermal impact on PV integration. Healy's panel - Friday, April 19 at 3:15pm - will examine market development for solar thermal, and explore proven policy options and the practical implications of those policies given today's political environment.

About the American Solar Energy Society:

Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals and advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy and other sustainable technologies through the publication of the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, the ASES National Solar Tour - the largest grassroots solar event in the world, and the the ASES National Solar Conference. For more information about ASES and the SOLAR 2013 conference please visit

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