Nevada regulators have approved six, 20-year renewable energy contracts, including two for wind power with a combined capacity of 227 MW at a cost of between $0.042/kWh and $0.052/kWh. The approval gives Sierra Pacific Resources the go-ahead to begin fulfilling a 2001 state renewables portfolio standard (RPS). Sierra owns Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power, the state's only two electric utilities that must meet the mandate. The RPS requires Sierra to buy 2% of its retail sales from wind, solar, geothermal or biomass resources every other year and to slowly escalate those purchases until they reach 15% by 2015. Sierra must reach the 5% level by the end of 2003 to be in full compliance with the RPS, which it now cannot do. But when the six projects are completed in 2005, the utility will be buying 7% of retail sales from renewable resources, satisfying RPS requirements through 2006. The wind projects are a 50 MW wind farm by Global Renewable Energy of Nevada, operating as Ely Wind Company LLC, and the 80 MW Desert Queen Limited Partnership project by Cielo Wind Power of Austin, Texas (Windpower Monthly, January 2003). The other four contracts are for geo-thermal resources. The Public Utility Commission is still considering a 50 MW solar project, reported to cost as much as $0.17/kWh.
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