Sierra Pacific asks regulators to approve multiple projects

With deregulation all but dead in Nevada, Sierra Pacific Power Co. Tuesday filed a 20-year resource plan with Nevada regulators outlining how the utility will fulfill the long-term electric needs of its customers.

In testimony submitted to the Public Utility Commission of Nevada, Steve Oldham, Sierra Pacific’s senior vice-president of corporate development and strategic planning, said the utility unit of Sierra Pacific Resources will need commission support of the plan’s key elements.

Earlier this year, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn signed a bill restoring cost-of-service regulation in the state after the state utilities’ cost of wholesale power began exceeding what they could pass on to retail customers. With supplies tight, Nevada Power Co. curtailed power to firm customers earlier this month in a series of rotating outages.

The Sierra Pacific plan consists of a laundry length of projects, including:

o Approval to execute long-term power purchase contracts that would provide maximum value and lowest cost to customers.

o Acceptance of the company’s plans to continue construction of the Falcon-Gonder transmission project between Carlin and Ely, Nev.

o Approval to repower the number one generating unit at the Tracy Power plant by 2005, which would increase generating capacity.

o Approval to spend $100,000 over a 3-year period to study an interconnection between Sierra Pacific and its sister subsidiary, Nevada Power Co., which would provide for more competition in the state and help open markets to customer choice.

o Approval for the company to spend up to $1 million over 3 years to study the feasibility of constructing new coal-fired plants, including a third unit at its North Valmy station in northeastern Nevada.

With respect to renewable energy, including geothermal, solar, and wind power, the plan will seek to use a competitive process with qualified renewable energy developers to secure future supplies of renewables, Oldham said..

The recently passed state SB 372 requires that 5% of Sierra Pacific’s energy mix will be provided by renewable energy sources by 2003. That number increases to 15% by 2013.

State regulators are expected to begin hearings on the 2001 electric resource plan later this summer.

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