NV Energy says joining energy partnership ‘may benefit’ its customers

A smart meter is shown at an NV Energy test lab, March 6, 2012.

After more than a year of study, NV Energy says it “may” have a new way to help customers.

The Las Vegas-based electric utility said today it plans to join a western U.S. energy network that, starting next year when it’s up and running, will distribute power where it’s needed on a fast, rolling basis.

The “energy imbalance market” will be run by the California Independent System Operator Corp., which manages the bulk of California’s power grid.

NV Energy announced in August 2012 that it would work with California ISO to study the possibility of developing transmission facilities between their systems to share conventional and renewable energy.

NV Energy, which serves 90 percent of Nevada’s population, said in a news release today that the “initial results” of the study indicate that if the company joins the new market, this “may benefit both California and Nevada customers.” It did not elaborate.

Once the study is finished, the company said, it plans to file a report with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada and seek approval to join the market.

“This is terrific news for Nevada and our neighbor California,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a prepared statement. “If approved, this energy imbalance market will allow for greater use of renewable energy resources, while also making our grid more reliable and efficient.”

The California ISO’s board of governors — who are nominated by the governor of California and confirmed by the state Senate — approved the market’s design framework today. The first confirmed participant is electric utility PacifiCorp, which serves 1.8 million customers in Oregon, Washington state, California, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.

PacifiCorp has been working with California ISO to set up the new market, which is expected to start operations on Oct. 1, 2014.

The company already has ties to Nevada’s dominant electric company.

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a unit of famed billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, owns PacifiCorp. In late May, MidAmerican reached a deal to buy NV Energy for $5.6 billion cash. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

NV Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht said the decision to join the new market is unrelated to the pending buyout.

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