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NV Energy is exploring new pricing plans to provide Google with 24/7 power from its Ferbo geothermal plant.

NV Energy is exploring new pricing plans to provide Google with 24/7 power from its Ferbo geothermal plant.


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Google and NV Energy on June 7 asked Nevada regulators for permission to enter into a power supply agreement under a proposed Clean Transition Tariff that would allow large energy users to pay a premium for clean energy from new sources 24/7.

Under the supply agreement, NV Energy will purchase power from Fervo Energy's 115 MW Corsac Station Enhanced Geothermal Project, which is under development, and sell it to Google at a fixed rate. Google will receive energy and generating capacity credits from the project on its electricity bills for its data centers in Story County, Nevada, to offset demand charges associated with those facilities.

Caroline Golin, Google's global head of energy market development, said the tariff is intended to encourage the adoption of more carbon-free, dispatchable energy resources, such as geothermal and nuclear power, by allowing energy users to make up the difference between the price of capital-intensive resources and lower-cost options such as solar and natural gas.

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Interest in next-generation renewable energy technologies has surged in recent years, but most experts agree it will be years or even decades before these technologies are deployed at scale, primarily for economic reasons. Golin believes the business model presented in Google's proposed fee could speed up that process.

Under the rate, Google would pay the difference between the cost of geothermal energy from Fervo's project in Nevada and the cost of solar or natural gas, whichever low-cost resource NV Energy deploys under regulatory lowest-cost constraints. In exchange for this fixed fee, Google would receive energy and generating capacity credits added to its electricity bill.

Using the fee as a hedge against rising fuel and demand charges should give Google a financial advantage, Golin said. But it should also give NV Energy an advantage, she noted: Instead of overbuilding solar and adding new natural gas to ensure a steady supply while meeting customer demand for renewable energy, the company would have access to stable, dispatchable renewable energy without violating lowest-cost regulatory requirements.

Nevada has a net-zero goal and NV Energy has a 100% renewable energy goal. Right now, their plan is to overbuild solar and backfill with natural gas. This creates a lot of stranded assets, but they're tied up in regulatory frameworks, Golin said. Tariffs would speed up the commercialization of a coveted resource, making the whole system better, she said.

Golin said Google began exploring the idea of ​​the rate about a year and a half ago after reviewing NV Energy's long-term resource plan. The company had identified some interesting opportunities to provide dispatchable carbon-free energy but hadn't incorporated them into its current resource plan due to cost issues. The company worked with NV Energy and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to develop a framework that would help realize those opportunities more quickly, Golin said.

While the energy contract in Nevada will only provide enough energy to power Google's data centers, Golin said the purpose of the rate is to create a framework that other customers and other states can replicate. The company is already in talks with Duke Energy and several other technology companies about setting similar rates in North and South Carolina, Golin said. Google is also working with other undisclosed utilities to explore opportunities to apply the framework to everything from advanced nuclear power to distributed resources and virtual power plants, he said.




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