Nevada Commission Approves First Link in Southwest Intertie Project

December 08, 2008

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUC) voted 3-0 on December 2 to approve a permit for a 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission line that would transmit power from solar, wind, and geothermal sources within the state to populated areas. The $350 million Nevada line will extend 230 miles south from a power substation at Ely to a substation about 20 miles north of Las Vegas. That line will connect NV Energy's northern Nevada utility with its southern Nevada utility. Great Basin Transmission, which is owned by a joint venture of Dynegy and LS Power, will construct the line.

In the order, the PUC said the line would improve electric reliability, create jobs, increase tax revenue, promote renewable energy development, and possibly lower electricity costs.

The line would be the first link between the state's northern and southern utilities and the first phase of the proposed Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), which aims to connect with other regional grid systems, enabling transmission of renewable energy throughout the West.

The SWIP is a proposed 500-kV independent transmission project that would stretch over 500 miles between southern Idaho and southern Nevada. The southern half would link Nevada utilities with Southern California Edison, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, the Western Area Power Administration, the Salt River Project, and Arizona Public Service. The northern half would connect the Desert Southwest with Idaho Power.

On the same day that the PUC approved the permit for the Nevada line, Great Basin Transmission released a report issued by Energy Strategies, LLC, entitled, "The Southwest Intertie Project: An Assessment of Potential Benefits."

The report asserts that the SWIP could:

  • Help the development of renewable resources in the West, from wind in Montana and Wyoming to geothermal energy in California and Nevada
  • Facilitate the reduction of between 2.5 and 4.9 million metric tons of carbon equivalents annually by delivering a mix of renewable and natural gas generation
  • Save Nevada consumers $125 million per year, before subtracting transmission costs
  • Save participating utilities between $195 million and $500 million in their compliance with renewable portfolio standards, before subtracting transmission costs.

For more information, see the December 2 Great Basin Transmission press release (PDF 20 KB), the SWIP report (PDF 1.4 MB), and the SWIP Web site. Download Adobe Reader.

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