New transmission line connects northern and southern Nevada
ON Line, a high voltage electric transmission line connecting northern and southern Nevada’s electric systems, was recently completed and then dedicated in Las Vegas Jan. 23. This is the first time that these two systems have been connected.
The project took three years and is jointly owned by NV Energy and Great Basin Transmission South (GBTS). GBTS has 75 percent ownership of the line and NV Energy has 25 percent. NV Energy currently receives all of the transmission capacity of the line, though, and pays GBTS a lease payment for its portion.
Part of the financing for this project came from a $343 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to GBTS.
ON Line is 235 miles long, energized to 500,000 volts and has a transmission capacity of about 800 megawatts. It runs from the newly constructed Robinson Summit substation west of Ely to the Harry Allen Generating Station north of Las Vegas. Connecting the northern and southern portions of the state will mean electricity generated on either side can be used throughout the entire state.
“First of all, it allows us to jointly dispatch electric resources between northern and southern Nevada, which is a capability that we never had before,” said NV Energy acting vice president of transmission Rich Salgo. “And the second benefit is that it allows renewable energy resources in northern Nevada to travel down to southern Nevada to serve the loads. Those generating resources, the renewable resources that are in northern Nevada, without the transmission line, they would be somewhat trapped and stranded and be unable to serve the growing load in southern Nevada.”
Currently, there are about 665 megawatts of renewable energy in northern Nevada—approximately 100 of those megawatts will be online in the next six to eight months—and those include geothermal, solar and wind power plants. Eleven renewable energy projects are now served by the line. Salgo believes this will greatly benefit the state as a whole.
“It’s a gateway for renewable resources to develop and thrive within the state of Nevada for the benefit for all of our customers,” Salgo said. “Nevadans are going to get the benefit of entry into the market of renewable resources, removal of barriers to renewable energy development as well as they will gain the benefit of operational efficiencies between our two service territories.”
This connection could also help in the case of resource deficiency in the state because “the transmission line would allow for the other end of the state to utilize resources to help fill that void,” according to Salgo.
NV Energy spokesman Karl Walquist added that he believes the transmission line will help to develop more renewable energy in the state.
“This solves a problem for some of the renewable energy developers out there because prior to this, it was very difficult for them to get into the electricity market and sell their electricity because some of the resources that are available may not be close to a transmission line,” Walquist said. “You’ve got a power plant, but you’ve got to be able to get the power to the customers.”