NV Energy Adding Two Gas-Fired Units Near Las Vegas

Nevada utility NV Energy is ready to add two natural gas-fired units to the existing Silverhawk Generating Station as part of the group’s plan to increase the state’s energy supply during the hottest months of the year.

The $353 million project, the first phase of an $827 million plan the utility filed with state regulators last November, was unanimously approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on March 14. An NV Energy spokesperson said the new 200-MW units, expected to come online in July 2024, would operate about 700 hours annually, mostly in June, July, and August when the utility sees its highest demand for electricity.

The PUC wrote that it approved the Silverhawk project because of the need to increase the state’s power generation capacity. It said it quickly moved the project forward because delaying the additional generation “is an unacceptable risk to reliability at this time.”

Three Plants at Industrial Park

The 520-MW Silverhawk Generating Station is located at the Apex Industrial Park in Moapa, about 30 miles north of Las Vegas. It entered service in 2004. The current plant has two Siemens/Westinghouse 501FD2 combustion turbines. Exhaust from those turbines is recycled to produce steam for a General Electric D-11 steam turbine to make additional electricity.

The Silverhawk Generating Station is located in an industrial park north of Las Vegas, Nevada. The gas-fired power plant is one of three generation stations at that site. Source: NV Energy

Silverhawk is part of a complex that includes the 628-MW Harry Allen Generating Station and the 1,100-MW Chuck Lenzie Generating Station. All three stations burn natural gas.

Josh Langdon, NV Energy vice president of Transmission, in a statement said of the new Silverhawk units: “They really add the most balanced approach from a cost affordability standpoint … but most importantly, a reliability standpoint. If you recall, over the past three years, there’s been significant heat waves. We’ve seen increased upticks in wildfire fires that have impacted the global transmission system across the entire west. And for these reasons, we’ve seen really high-priced power in the open market. So, to really combat that or balance that, we’re proposing these new units that can generate electricity 24/7.”

No Change to Renewables Goal

NV Energy reiterated that the utility still has a goal of producing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050. Clean energy groups have decried NV Energy’s decision to build more fossil fuel-powered generation, saying the utility should invest more in solar power and energy storage.

NV Energy, in a letter to state regulators late last year, wrote of its latest generation plan: “Nevada is not immune and has experienced energy supply issues three years in a row. Nevada’s historic reliance on the energy market to meet peak period demand is no longer viable and has introduced significant risk of energy shortfalls and associated rolling blackouts in recent years.”

The utility also has said the new gas-fired units could in the future be converted to run on hydrogen, although it has not offered a timeline for when such a conversion could occur.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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