NV Energy subsidiaries want to build north-south power connection

NV Energy’s two power-company subsidiaries said Monday that they’ve requested approval from the state’s Public Utilities Commission to begin building a $470 million electric transmission line between Northern and Southern Nevada.

The 235-mile One Nevada Transmission Line, or ON Line, would link power systems in Northern and Southern Nevada and allow NV Energy subsidiaries Nevada Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co. to deliver renewable energy across the state. That would boost NV Energy’s ability to comply with Nevada’s portfolio standard for renewable-energy use in an “economically efficient manner,” the company said in a statement.

The announcement came four days after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada introduced legislation to encourage investment in renewable power, particularly in the transmission lines that would transport such energy from rural markets, where it’s produced, to urban markets, where it’s needed.

The idea of linking energy systems across the state isn’t new, and plans for a connection were under way before Reid’s move last week. The project will also go ahead regardless of the outcome of congressional action on the proposed bill.

But Roberto Denis, senior vice president of energy supplies for NV Energy, said the power company is watching what happens with the legislation.

“It’s something we’re looking at to the extent that it would be beneficial to the state and consumers,” Denis said. “To the point we can tap into it, it’s certainly something we would look into.”

Jon Summers, a spokesman for Reid, called NV Energy’s announcement “a great example of how Sen. Reid’s vision of Nevada leading the way in renewable energy is coming to fruition.”

“By creating an environment that encourages these types of investments, we are well on our way to creating thousands of jobs and making Nevada the clean-energy leader,” Summers said.

NV Energy officials don’t expect a firm answer on the Reid bill’s fate until later this year, Denis said.

The Public Utilities Commission should issue a decision on the transmission line sometime in July at the latest, he added.

If the commission approves the project, construction would begin in mid- to late 2010.

The transmission line would run from Ely to the Harry Allen substation northeast of Las Vegas. It’s projected to begin operating in mid-2012, depending on the timing of regulatory approvals.