DOE Offers 500-kV Nev. Line First Transmission Project Loan Guarantee

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday offered a $350 million conditional loan guarantee to develop the One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line), a proposed 500-kV link that will run 235 miles and transmit 600 MW of mostly renewable energy. The project is the first transmission line to receive a federal loan guarantee.

When fully completed, the line is expected to carry approximately 2,000 MW of electricity and will enable wind and solar resources in Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada to power the Southwest and California markets, the DOE said.

The DOE’s announcement was made as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) broke ground for the $510 million project on Tuesday.

A joint venture of NV Energy and Great Basin Transmission (an LS Power company), the line will extend from Harry Allen Substation north of Las Vegas to the Thirtymile substation near Ely, Nev. It will be constructed entirely within the already-established Westwide Energy Corridor, which will minimize environmental impacts, the Department of the Interior (DOI) said in a separate release. Earlier this year, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved the project and the agreement between NV Energy and Great Basin.

ON Line represents the southern portion of a 510-mile project known as the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reviewing SWIP in two parts. SWIP-South, now known as ON Line, is the 235-mile southern part for which BLM’s Ely District issued a Notice to Proceed with construction on August 19, 2010. Subject to pending approvals from the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, Great Basin and NV Energy plan to begin constructing ON Line in 2010 and anticipate it will be operational by the end of 2012.

The second phase of SWIP, consisting of the 275-mile northern portion, is known as “SWIP-North” and is being developed by Great Basin. Great Basin anticipates completing all permitting requirements for the $550 million SWIP-North project in 2011. SWIP-North will run from the Midpoint substation near Jerome, Idaho, to the Thirtymile substation near Ely, Nev. Construction of SWIP-North may begin as early as 2011 with an operational date in 2014.

Secretary Salazar reportedly attended the groundbreaking ceremony during the last leg of a three-state renewable energy tour to boost large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands. This month alone, Salazar approved four large-scale solar energy projects on U.S. public lands in California and Nevada. The most recent approval occurred last week with the signing of a Record of Decision for the Silver State North Solar Project, the first-ever utility scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands. The 50-MW solar facility and associated infrastructure will be built in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas.

Sources: DOE, DOI, POWERnews

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