Hot topic? How does ONLine grab you?

We’re going to talk power-transmission grids.

Your eyes are glazing over already, we know, but try to stay with us here, because this is important: We’re talking about huge money, the first link between power companies in Northern and Southern Nevada and a potential big step toward tapping renewable-power resources statewide.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada is hearing testimony this week in local power utility NV Energy’s integrated-resource plan, a proposal that outlines how the company plans to obtain, finance and distribute electricity for the next two decades.

Wednesday’s hot topic? The utility’s One Nevada transmission line (ONLine), a $510 million project executives want to build and own jointly with big energy developer LS Power. The line would run 235 miles, from Ely to NV Energy’s Harry Allen Generating Station in Apex. NV Energy and LS Power are negotiating with the Western Area Power Administration, a government agency that markets and delivers power throughout 15 states, to use federal stimulus funds to help pay for the line.

As commissioners, commission staffers and consumer advocates peppered NV Energy with questions about their plan Tuesday, the utility’s executives told commissioners that the utility needs the line to meet state mandates that it obtain 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025.

NV Energy has six major renewable-energy power-purchase agreements in its integrated-resource plan, and the terms in five of those pacts call for the transmission line. That’s because many clean-power projects reside in rural areas, and they’ll need the line to link them to the grid.

“From the company’s perspective, ONLine and the contracts are inextricably linked,” said David Hicks, NV Energy’s director of renewable-energy procurement. “Without ONLine, there is no path for the power from these projects to go from the north to the south.”

Rejecting ONLine could leave NV Energy with renewable-energy power-purchase agreements it has to pay for, without yielding any benefit for the utility’s renewable portfolio standard, Hicks said.

ONLine is also important because it could eventually marry NV Energy’s southern and northern operations, company executives said. Ratepayers in Southern Nevada could benefit from relatively inexpensive hydroelectric power bought through Sierra Pacific Power Co., NV Energy’s Northern Nevada operation. Consumers up north could tap into the natural-gas supplies of southern subsidiary Nevada Power Co. to help fuel heating during cold snaps.

Shifting natural gas from south to north in severe cold weather would allow NV Energy to delay natural-gas pipeline expansions by a decade, from their scheduled 2017 date to 2027, testified Charlie Pottey, the utility’s manager of network and integrated-resource plan transmission planning.

The move would also save $55 million in capital expenditures at NV Energy’s Harry Allen plant. The utility’s current infrastructure requires that it maintain reserve-generating capacity on the rare occasion that operations in the north and south hit peaks in the same hour. But that’s happened just twice in 20 years, Pottey said. If the two operations could share resources via ONLine, NV Energy could avoid investing in 34 megawatts of added capacity for freak peak events.

“Transmission between the two systems allows more flexibility, and will allow both companies to adapt to changing conditions in a more cost-effective manner, potentially,” Pottey said.

Among the commissioners who will approve or deny ONLine and the staffers and attorneys cross-examining NV Energy, much of the questioning revolved around just how NV Energy will connect the operations and capacities of Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power.

NV Energy said linking the two would be essential to making ONLine work as planned, and company analysts included such a connection in their modeling tests weighing how the line would work.

But the utility hasn’t specified how the link would happen, or how it would divvy up the new system’s costs and benefits between Sierra Pacific and NV Energy. One company official testified that the split should go 95 percent Nevada Power’s way and 5 percent in Sierra Pacific’s direction, but an independent researcher hired by the intervening Southern Nevada Water Authority suggested a 78 percent-22 percent split. Some generating-ownership issues would also need ironing out.

Commissioners and consumer advocates indicated several times that they would want to review accounting procedures under the connection, as the protocol wasn’t included in the current case. They also asked if approving ONLine now, but requiring a later hearing on the particulars of the connection, would jeopardize NV Energy’s power-purchase agreements.

Company officials said such a conditional approval of ONLine wouldn’t force them to terminate their purchasing contracts.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to sign off on the specifics as well.

Commission staffers and attorneys also raised smaller sticking points in the proposal.

Don Lomoljo, a senior attorney with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, noted that NV Energy executives testified that ONLine would be at capacity within a year of its completion. And if the line hits capacity, Lomoljo said, how could the utility bring on that cheaper hydroelectric power it talked about transporting from the Pacific Northwest?

Plus, NV Energy’s own analysis showed that production costs for Sierra Pacific would rise post-ONLine. Commissioners wanted to know why.

Pottey responded that the utility put little effort into determining which entity would be charged for power from the other, and when, and that could have yielded the higher cost. Plus, Nevada Power has paid for and owns renewable resources that are essentially “stranded” on the Sierra Pacific system, because there’s no way to distribute the electricity to Nevada Power. Once ONLine goes live, that electricity will go to Nevada Power. Sierra Pacific will need to account for that 128 megawatts of lost capacity — an expense that could run $160 million over 30 years.

Pottey also testified that NV Energy ran 280 modeling tests to account for the costs and benefits of ONLine. That compares with 30 to 50 tests the company might run on a typical resource proposal. Much of the additional testing came from the possibility of increased regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions.

NV Energy’s carbon-dioxide emissions peaked at 12.21 million metric tons in 2008, and have fallen since, noted David Harrison, senior vice president of National Economic Research Associates, a Boston consulting firm.

Harrison said his analysis didn’t show when NV Energy might reach a new emissions peak.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at or 702-380-4512.

President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like