Nevada gets ON Line access

One barrier to fueling Nevada’s clean energy market has been the inability for renewable energy projects in the state’s rural areas to connect to the grid. For example, a place may get the strongest, most consistent wind in the state, but if it can’t connect to the grid, it won’t be of much value. But a U.S. Department of Energy announcement last week took a big step toward removing some obstacles.

The DOE finalized a $343 million loan guarantee for the One Nevada transmission line, or ON Line, which will run 235 miles from Ely in the north to just outside Apex near Las Vegas, carrying 600 megawatts of both renewable and conventional energy. Supported by federal stimulus funds, it’s the first transmission line to receive loan aid from the DOE. With loan guarantees, the federal government will pick up the tab for portions of private loans if the companies default.

ON Line is owned by NV Energy and Great Basin Transmission South LLC and is expected to break ground this year and be completed by early 2013.

In a press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said ON Line would create 400 jobs in Nevada in the short term, and thousands more in the long run as it allows for more clean energy projects to be developed.

“We need to keep in mind that power-hungry California has a requirement on the books that by 2020, one-third of all of its energy has to come from renewable sources,” he said. “They’ve acknowledged that they can’t meet those goals with what they produce. So there’s a built-in market right next door to us.”