Power transmission is a key factor in the development of Nevada's renewable energy resources. Without the transmission facilities and infrastructure necessary to move electricity, renewable energy projects will not be developed.
There are several initiatives underway to improve Nevada, and Nye County's, power transmission infrastructure.
Governor's New Energy Industry Task Force and Technical Advisory Committee
On November 21, 2011 Governor Sandoval issued an Executive Order providing direction to the New Energy Industry Task Force (NEITF) and establishing a Technical Advisory Committee to facilitate establishing a renewable energy export industry in the State of Nevada. The Governor charged the Task Force and Advisory Committee with facilitating the timely development of transmission facilities and renewable energy resources in the State, including facilitation of permitting, construction, and electrical interconnection of facilities and resources. Former Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley, recognized for her work supporting the sustainable development of Nye County's renewable resources, serves on the Committee. Specific tasks for the Committee were:
- Identify and establish appropriate corridors for the transmission of electricity in this State recognizing Renewable Energy Zones adopted by the Public Utilities Commission.
- Promote development and regionalization of transmission facilities and renewable energy resources in this State.
- Coordinate with existing electrical utilities, the Public Utilities Commission and stakeholders on the development of regional transmission planning and cost allocation strategies for interstate transmission facilities.
- Develop the business case for Nevada's renewable resources.
Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. prepared the Economic Analysis of Nevada's Renewable Energy and Transmission Development Scenarios Report dated October 3, 2012. Comments from the NEITF and Advisory Committee were appended to the report.
Valley Electric Association (VEA) Joins the California Independent System Operator (CAISO)
On October 14, 2011 the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) filed a Transition Agreement between the CAISO and Valley Electric Association, Inc. (VEA), based in Pahrump, Nevada. The agreement set forth the terms and conditions under which VEA will transition from the NV Energy balancing authority area to the CAISO balancing authority area. With this move, VEA's transmission customers may be considered California "Bucket One" (domestic) resources under CA SBX 1-2.
On January 3, 2013 VEA became the first out-of-state utility to join the CAISO as a participating transmission owner. This new partnership creates cost-effective means of getting both California and Nevada renewables to market.
Valley Electric Association (VEA) Hidden Hills Transmission Line
To support the Hidden Hills Transmission Project, in November, 2011 VEA began permitting 9.7 miles of new 230 kilovolt (kV) single circuit transmission line and 53 miles of new 500 kV single circuit transmission line connecting with the Eldorado substation south of Las Vegas.
Renewable Energy Transmission Access Advisory Committee (RETAAC)
In May 2007, Governor Jim Gibbons created the RETAAC to identify Nevada's renewable energy zones, review current transmission capabilities, and identify ways to ensure that Nevada's transmission of electricity from renewable energy resources is efficient and cost effective. A RETAAC Phase II report was issued in July 2009 that detailed the following principal findings:
- Nevada's renewable energy zones and the transmission necessary to access the potential electricity within those zones;
- New transmission lines necessary to export the electricity contained in Nevada's renewable energy zones;
- Ranks of the economic feasibility of the transmission needed to access each prioritized renewable energy zone.
Nevada Energy Assistance Corporation (NEAC)
Pursuant to the recommendations of the Governor's RETAAC, the NEAC was formed to promote the development of renewable and sustainable energy projects within Nevada. Following a solicitation for proposals, NEAC contracted with Tri Sage Consulting of Reno, NV (in partnership with Energy Source, LLC and US Geomatics) to complete a Nevada Statewide transmission study, titled "Transmission Initiative Routing Study."
The study report was the result of over a year of rigorous and technical review of Nevada's existing transmission capacity, current plans for transmission infrastructure improvements, policies and permitting issues associated with the development of three major transmission routes for the intended purpose of increasing the transmission capacity within the state. These lines would allow renewable energy from established energy zones to be fed into the regional grid, providing economic benefit to Nevadans.
West-wide Energy Corridor Programmatic EIS Information Center
The West-Wide Energy Corridor Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) was completed in November 2008 by the United States Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service, and the Department of Defense (the Agencies). The PEIS identifies proposed Section 368 energy corridors to facilitate future siting of renewable energy development projects and electricity transmission and distribution facilities on Federal Lands in the West. A multi-modal energy corridor was proposed for southern Nye County, Nevada.
On July 7, 2009 multiple organizations (Plaintiffs) filed a Complaint in the "Wilderness Society, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 3:09-cv-03048-JW (N.D. Cal.)." The Plaintiffs raised a variety of challenges in response to the Agencies' Records of Decision. On July 3, 2012 a Settlement Agreement was reached, requiring the Agencies to:
- Complete an interagency Memorandum of Understanding addressing periodic corridor reviews
- Update agency guidance
- Update agency training
- Complete a corridor study
One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line)
The One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line) 500 kV line will extend 236 miles from the Harry Allen substation north of Las Vegas to a substation under construction west of Ely, Nevada. This major NV Energy line crosses the northeastern portion of Nye County and links transmission facilities in northern and southern Nevada. A secondary purpose of the line is to carry renewable energy (primarily Wyoming wind) to the Eldorado substation, and it may be used for Nevada renewable energy in the future.
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