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Google, NV Energy propose world's largest corporate solar-plus-storage deal

Affiliates of Google LLC and NV Energy Inc. have agreed to power a new $600 million data center in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas, through what they say is the world's biggest battery-backed solar deal for a corporate customer. The deal was disclosed in a recent filing with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada by Nevada Power Co., a unit of NV Energy, itself a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

The agreement involves roughly 350 MW of solar photovoltaics and between 250 MW and 280 MW of battery storage at one or more hybrid projects, according to the utility's Dec. 19, 2019, request for approval of the contract, which includes fixed, undisclosed prices.

The deal is "cost-effective and competitively priced compared to other available options," NV Energy said. Underlying project development agreements remain under negotiation, with solar-plus-storage resources expected to begin operation in the second half of 2023.

For Google, the contract aligns with its efforts to power its data centers with carbon-free energy at all times. The Alphabet Inc. subsidiary previously said it has achieved its goal of offsetting its total global power consumption with renewable energy purchases on an annual basis. The battery-backed solar resources, however, will not eliminate Google's reliance on fossil fuels at the site. According to the filing, the contract price also covers NV Energy's cost of transporting natural gas for generating facilities supplying power to Google's data center.

The agreement also enables NV Energy to use solar power not consumed by the data center, for which Google would receive a bill credit. If approved, the utility will use the solar and storage resources for summer peaking capacity.

NV Energy proposes to supply Google with wholesale market energy during an interim period before the battery-backed solar resources come online.

Solar-plus-storage surge

NV Energy said it has received "overwhelming interest" from other potential new commercial customers for renewable energy supported by energy storage. Over the past 12 months, the Nevada PUC has approved NV Energy contracts for 2,190 MW of solar photovoltaics and 690 MW of battery storage, representing more than $5 billion in direct investment into Nevada's economy, the utility said in the filing.

That includes the Gemini Solar + Battery Storage Project, a 690 MW solar facility with 380 MW of batteries, projected to cost more than $1 billion. The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management recently released a favorable final environmental impact statement for the project, which is located on federal land.

NV Energy also has a contract with 8minute Solar Energy LLC for the output of the Southern Bighorn Solar & Storage Center, a 300-MW solar project with 135 MW of battery storage, at an average price of $35/MWh.

A prehearing conference at the Nevada PUC on NV Energy's latest proposed solar-plus-storage contract with Google is set for Jan. 23.