Nevada PUC approves Duke project

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved Duke Energy’s proposed Searchlight Wind project of up to 200MW that would be located on federal lands administered by the US Interior Department.

The three-member PUC issued a draft order on 10 July and will soon release a final one with few changes to the text, PUC Public Information Officer Peter Kostes tells Recharge.

Duke has said that it will not begin construction after permitting is completed until it has nailed down long-term power purchase agreements for the project. The developer has been in talks with NV Energy, the dominant utility in Nevada, and several electric utilities in California

President Barack Obama has ordered the Interior Department to accelerate permitting in an environmentally responsible way of wind, solar and other renewable energy projects on federal lands. Most of those lands are administered by the department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The BLM will need to approve a right-of-way permit for overhead transmission lines that will connect the project to the regional grid.

Nevada has a mandate that requires NV Energy to supply 25% of the total electricity it sells by 2025 from renewable sources.

In addition, the legislature this year passed a bill that requires the utility to retire 800MW of coal-fired electric generating plants, in phases, by 31 December 2019. To offset these retirements, NV Energy must purchase, construct, or acquire 900MW of power, in phases, from cleaner facilities. Of this total, 350MW must come from new renewable energy facilities.

Nevada had 152MW of wind capacity installed on 1 January this year.