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The Regulators Forum - States to Feds: Don't tread on Me

How far do states rights go in transmission planning?
Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 2003

are immediate to deal with today's reality, intermediate to move away from a reliance on the wholesale markets, and longer-term to increase the diversity of fuels used to generate electricity in Nevada.

The immediate actions include the approval earlier this year of three long-term contracts totaling 625 MW for Nevada Power to help with its summer peaking needs. Also, the commission has approved demand-side management programs for both Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power that promote energy conservation and load shifting. Lastly, three homebuilders in southern Nevada-Pulte, Pardee, and Astoria-have led the effort to build Energy Star homes in the Las Vegas area. As a result of their efforts, approximately 20 percent of the new homes built in Las Vegas during 2002 were labeled as Energy Star.

While long-term contracts, demand-side management programs, and energy efficient homes will help this state lessen reliance on volatile wholesale energy markets, there is a need for the electric utilities in Nevada to increase the percentage of utility-owned generation in this state. The utilities that weathered the Western energy crisis without having to raise rates were those that had enough capacity to meet peak load without having to resort to purchases on the wholesale market. The commission is currently reviewing Nevada Power's 2003 resource plan and its proposal to build new generation.

The longer-term actions are to diversify the types of generation resources in Nevada as mentioned in response to an earlier question. Nevada currently has 239 MW of geothermal capacity and another 105 MW that is proposed. Wind energy totaling 210 MW is proposed at sites in southern and central Nevada. Earlier this year, this commission approved a contract between the Nevada utilities and the proposed Eldorado Solar Electric Generating Station. When the solar plant becomes operational in 2005, it will be the third largest solar generating station in the country and the first large-scale solar plant built since 1990. Lastly, this state needs more baseload coal generation to complement its mix of renewable energy.

While recovery from the 2000-01 Western energy crisis will not be easy, nor without its costs, Nevada will emerge much stronger from the lessons learned from the crisis. This state is laying the foundation to ensure that its citizens will have utility bills that are reasonable and its utilities are financially strong and independent from volatile wholesale energy markets.

Blackout State

Ohio: Service Quality Redux

Dr. Alan R. Schriber, chairman, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

F: After the August blackout, what is your commission doing to ensure such an event doesn't take place again?

Dr. Alan R. Schriber: First of all, we need to determine what the cause of the event was, and that is on two fronts. Number one is the state-we are doing our own investigation and the first thing we have done is a very extensive and exhaustive event list, which pairs up with the one the bi-national task force put out; in fact, it delves even a little deeper into the 69-kV lines. We also are involved with the companies regarding discussions and data requests with