LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Worried about losing power in the middle of a 110-degree day in Las Vegas?
The head of the valley’s power company says you shouldn’t.
“Summer readiness for us is ‘game-time.’ So we work all year to make sure our grid is really ready to perform, especially here in Southern Nevada,” NV Energy President and CEO Doug Cannon said.
Cannon said NV Energy’s record is solid on power reliability, citing statistics that indicate the power is on 99.9% of the time.
“I know that we have some specific communities where we’ve got some older infrastructure that may have been more of a challenge in the past and we are trying to get those issues addressed and invest in those communities to make sure they have quality, reliable infrastructure,” Cannon said. “But it is important. Storms happen, and outages will occasionally happen.”
Before it happens, NV Energy recommends planning ahead.
For starters, keep your cell phone charged up. You can sign up for text alerts about power outages in your area to stay informed (Go to https://www.nvenergy.com/outages-and-emergencies/view-current-outages and click on “Get outage updates”). It’s also important to have a supply of food and water if you ever need to wait it out.
Las Vegas officials have been paying attention to what’s happening in California — a massive shift to electric cars, even as the power grid struggles to meet everyday demand.
And what about growth? The valley has its eyes on Lake Mead, wondering how long the water supply will hold out if the 22-year drought continues much longer. Will there be a similar problem with electricity?
Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony said there’s a concern in the community about the sustainability of the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
But NV Energy’s Cannon says backup systems are reliable and growing all the time.
Coal-fired power plants are no longer part of the power supply for NV Energy.
“We have maintained and, in fact, enlarged our natural gas generation fleet. These are high-efficiency units. They are quick-responding, so if there’s changes on the electric grid they can turn on, turn off, and ramp up very quickly,” Cannon said. “And we are keeping that generation so that we can ensure we maintain a reliable grid as we transition to renewables.”
In a wide-ranging discussion of the power grid at a Las Vegas City Council meeting on Wednesday, Cannon went over various sources of power for the valley. Renewable energy is playing a bigger role every day, but that’s not the only thing on NV Energy’s mind.
“It does no good if we achieve sustainability, but we don’t have reliability,” Cannon said.
In addition to natural gas, large batteries play a role in the grid.
Lessons learned from recent wildfires in California have made it important for the utility to have backups.
“Last summer we had a situation where one of the very large transmission lines that brings energy down out of the Pacific Northwest, there was a wildfire underneath that line,” Cannon explained. “They ended up shutting off that line, and all that energy that normally would have come into the Southwest states, including Nevada, was gone. And
now, in a very short amount of time … within minutes … you have to find alternative energy supplies.”
NV Energy’s customers never even felt a hiccup, he said. The utility solved the problem with electricity from other sources.
“Now we have a full-time team that does that type of work, real-time,” he said.