NV energy is using loopholes to inflate its amount of renewable energy sources, claims the state Bureau of Consumer Protection filing. (Photo: Ronda Churchill/Nevada Current)
Nevada’s Consumer Advocate Ernest Figueroa says NV Energy is fudging the percentage of electricity sales it reports from renewable energy sources in an annual report filed with the Public Utilities Commission, and would not meet its requirement if not for accounting practices that will soon be prohibited.
In a filing with the Public Utilities Commission Wednesday, Figueroa, who heads up the state’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, alleged NV Energy uses loopholes to satisfy its requirements for renewable energy sales that lawmakers intended to “clean,” albeit prospectively, from the calculation years ago.
A day earlier, NV Energy Executive Vice President of Business Development and External Affairs Tony Sanchez suggested legislators increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard – the percentage of renewable retail electricity sold each year. Such a move would allow the utility to pursue in-state generation opportunities – and recovery of their costs – absent the standard regulatory process. The RPS is currently set to increase to 50% by 2030.
“If there were a mandate, like increasing the RPS standard, if that were added to this bill, that would be the component that would require us to go ahead and close that open position, and that would be palatable with us and we think would go a long way to protecting Nevadans both from a price standpoint, but from a reliability standpoint, and help us as we continue to decarbonize our system… “ Sanchez testified on Assembly Bill 524, a measure the utility sought but ultimately opposed when it failed to meet NV Energy’s objectives.
Last month, NV Energy announced it exceeded the state’s requirement for 2022 that 29% of the electricity it sells come from renewable sources.
“This is the 13th consecutive year that NV Energy has exceeded the state’s renewable energy requirement,” the utility said in a statement.
“In southern Nevada, Nevada Power achieved a RPS of 37.1 percent,” the utility said. “In northern Nevada, Sierra Pacific Power achieved a RPS 35.8 percent. Combined, NV Energy achieved an overall RPS 36.7 percent—nearly 8 percent points higher than the 29 percent standard.”
“The report is accurate and in compliance with Nevada statute and to imply that NV Energy is out of compliance or is obscuring the results is simply not true,” the utility said in a statement late Thursday. The current Nevada RPS is stated in terms of the number of Portfolio Credits (PC) required for compliance. Like all other energy providers in the state, current Nevada law requires that energy providers report energy credits, not an energy standard, as part of the RPS. While net energy is one of the largest sources of eligible credits, eligible credits can also come from other sources that promote energy efficiency and renewable development. NV Energy continues to pursue reliable, affordable and sustainable energy solutions for our customers to help achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to help meet the state’s renewable portfolio requirement of 50 percent by 2030 as outlined in Nevada law.”
Figueroa suggests NV Energy’s crowing gives customers the wrong impression.
“When Nevada’s two electric utilities issue a joint news release touting that they exceeded the 2022 RPS requirement of 29% by nearly 8%, the public is under the impression that this achievement was accomplished solely with RECs,” he said.
RECs are defined as one megawatt-hour of renewable energy.
“The public is unaware that the Nevada statutes and regulations have created loopholes, such as station usage and solar multipliers, that make it possible for the two electric utilities to meet and exceed the annual RPS requirements,” says the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s filing.
Senate Bill 252, passed in 2013, eliminated NV Energy’s ability to count several categories of portfolio energy credits in their RPS calculation, but on a prospective basis. The bill eliminates statutory loopholes in 2025 for demand-side management; station usage for generating facilities built after 2015, except geothermal; and solar multipliers for generating stations built after Jan.1, 2016. In the meantime, those loopholes remain.
Figueroa says approximately 25.2 percent of NV Energy’s retail sales in Southern Nevada last year and approximately 23.2 percent of retail sales in the north were from energy that genuinely qualifies as renewable.
“It is the statutory and regulatory loopholes in the accounting for Nevada PECs (Porfolio Enegy Credits) that allow the utilities to claim much higher percentages of PEC compliance,” the Consumer Advocate says in the filing.
He says the PUC should direct NV Energy in subsequent compliance filings to report how many of its portfolio energy credits were generated by actual renewable sources.
Note: Updated with comment from NV Energy. The original version of this story misstated Sanchez’ title.
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