Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 | 12:49 p.m.
CARSON CITY — NV Energy is studying shipping solar and geothermal power to California. But regulators and consumer advocates are questioning the mammoth project.
"It's a risk to your shareholders," Public Utilities Commissioner Rebecca Wagner said during a PUC workshop Thursday. "You're flying without a net."
Documents filed by the company indicate it has spent $150,000 on studying the project so far.
Dan Jacobsen of the state Consumer Affairs Division says there.s worry that if the project fails the Nevada ratepayers will be hit. He noted that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hasn't approved the plans so far.
The utility says its Renewable Transmission Initiative is in line with the "general public policy principles" of the federal energy agency.
Christopher Hilen, associate general counsel of NV Energy, assured regulators that shareholders, not customers, are paying for the study.
Three areas in the state have been identified as potential sites for geothermal or solar energy. Companies in these areas would build and finance the plants for the generation.
So far 50 groups that have expressed interest in projects that could generate 5,000 megawatts of renewal energy, Hilen said.
NV Energy says it expects to collect money from those interested to pay the cost of the study and moving the project through government channels.
NV Energy would construct the pipeline to export the energy. The utility has met with the Bureau of Land Management on possible transmission line corridors to deliver the power to the border of California.
Michael Picker, senior energy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, said there are a number of solar and wind energy projects advancing that is moving California closer to meeting its goal of having one third of its power from renewable resources by 2020.
Picker, in an August 2011 letter to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, said the Brown Administration was "also particularly concerned when we see proposals for large renewable energy resource development outside of California interconnecting across long distances directly into California."
He said cost and risk may plague these proposed plans to ship renewal energy into California.