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LETTER: California brownouts and Nevada

Updated August 25, 2020 - 9:51 pm

Your Thursday editorial on California’s power problems mirrors what has happened in Nevada with NV Energy requesting customers cut back on power usage between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. The interesting request included the recharging of electric cars. Buyers of electric cars might want to check with their power company as to how many brownouts will be forthcoming in the years ahead.

Much like California, the Nevada Legislature has demanded that the utility company replace coal-fired plants with renewable energy plants such as solar. The problem with solar is it can’t meet peak demand for power during the hot summer months. It is not a reliable source of energy. This problem will only increase in the years to come.

Historically, NV Energy has reduced its capacity by more than 4,000 megawatts by closing the Reid Gardner Generating Station and canceling the Ely Energy Center and the White Pine Energy Station. Since these were coal-fired plants, the closures made sense only if they were replaced with clean natural gas-fired plants so that peak demand could be sustained.

However, a faster solution to the peak usage problem would be to increase the capacity of peak power available by installing 12 additional Pratt & Whitney peaking units that can provide up to 600 megawatts of electricity to meet short-term customer needs.

The idea of green energy is a dream of many Americans. Current technology, however, is unable to consistently provide the energy needs of our state because Mother Nature does not cooperate every day. The large solar plant in operation near the Nevada-California border has never produced the power that the owner contracted to provide. Clouds interrupt more often than people realize. In addition, the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day.

I hope that Nevada will learn from California’s mistake and change course immediately.

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