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Nevada OKs 3-way, 200-MW solar arrangement with NV Energy, Apple and Techren

Nevada utility regulators approved a power purchase agreement between Sierra Pacific Power Co. and Techren Solar LLC for a 200-MW solar complex to supply the utility and support a renewable energy agreement with Apple Inc.

Under the arrangement the NV Energy Inc. utility will purchase all of the output from the proposed Techren Solar 2 facility in Boulder City, Nev., according to the Public Utilities Commission's order and the utility company's original application for approval of the power contract. In the same order and attached stipulation, the commission approved a "green energy rider" between Sierra Pacific Power and Apple that will allow the utility to provide the information technology company with renewable portfolio energy credits associated with the Techren facility.

Apple will pay for the solar energy through a renewable resource rate without burdening other utility customers with incremental costs of that solar facility, according to the order and stipulation. As part of the agreement, the rate is confidential customer-specific information that will not be disclosed without Apple's consent.

The stipulation was also signed by the PUC regulatory operations staff and Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy, a nonprofit association that promotes expanded use of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies.

NV Energy, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, announced the deal on Jan. 25, saying the project will support Apple's renewable energy needs for its Reno data center. Apple is undertaking a $1 billion expansion of the data center for its iCloud storage in the Reno Technology Park east of Sparks, Nev., according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

On Jan. 25, the PUC approved a state environmental permit to allow Techren to construct a 300-MW photovoltaic solar project in Boulder City in southern Nevada. NV Energy has signed a power purchase agreement for 100 MW of that capacity, while the newest power purchase agreement between Techren and Apple is for the remaining 200 MW of the Boulder City project. Techren is a subsidiary of Hanwha Q CELLS Co.

In January 2016, the PUC approved three renewable energy agreements to add 129 MW of solar capacity to NV Energy's system through similar arrangements with Apple and Switch Ltd. At the time then PUC Chairman Paul Thomsen praised the arrangements as a new model for consumers demanding renewable power. Thomsen resigned from the three-member commission on May 15, so the new Chairman Joe Reynolds in Carson City, Nev., and Commissioner Ann Pongracz in Las Vegas on May 31 approved the three-way Sierra Pacific Power, Techren and Apple agreements via a televised conference link. "I believe this is a really smart deal and really good for Nevadans," Reynolds said in moving for approval.