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Nevada Pushes Accelerator On Renewables, Transmission Lines

turquoise_construction.jpg

Courtesy Sumitomo Corp. of Americas

The Turquoise solar farm outside of Reno won 2020's “Utility-Scale Project of the Year” award from Solar Builder. Shown under construction in 2018, it now provides power to a nearby Apple data center and a utility at Lake Tahoe.

Nevada upped its bet on renewable energy when Gov. Steve Sisolak signed legislation speeding the development of a $2.5 billion electric transmission line through the heart of the state.

Along with promoting EVs, Senate Bill 448 streamlines the approval process for NV Energy’s Greenlink Nevada, the biggest high-capacity power line project in state history. The measure will allow for the completion of the project by 2028, about three years ahead of the utility’s announced schedule.

When he signed the bill on June 10, Sisolak said it will “help secure Nevada’s place as a leader in renewable energy while helping us reach our climate goals and create jobs.”

The transmission lines are expected to allow for the development of 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects, according to the utility, as the state moves to meet its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

That is welcome news in Reno, where companies such as Tesla, Apple, Google, and Switch made investments there contingent on access to renewable energy.

The private sector “has long left the barn with renewables — battery manufacturing, e-motor manufacturing. Private enterprise is leading the charge,” said Brian Bonnenfant, project manager for UNR’s Center for Regional Studies.

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“To get caught up, now we need transmission, utilities to feed all that together," he told State of Nevada. "Things are changing rapidly up here.”

Greenlink Nevada promoters envision the project as a catalyst for the state to leverage its rich solar and geothermal resources to become a clean energy powerhouse, even serving markets outside of the state. High-capacity lines will connect Las Vegas, Reno, and central Nevada to better link users and suppliers.

The renewable energy industry can also generate new types of jobs in Nevada, said a Reno-based developer of solar projects. 

Nevada “has developed a talent base of engineers, lawyers, and all types of people involved with putting these projects together,” said Jill Daniel, president and founder of Estuary Capital Partners. “We try at Estuary to identify and grow suppliers and professionals in Nevada who know our market.” 

Her company recently completed a 61-megawatt solar plant at the Reno Technology Park. It went online earlier this year and delivers electricity to a nearby Apple data center. Daniel said Greenlink Nevada will provide opportunities to better develop projects in lower-cost rural locations and serve remote power users such as mining operations.

 

Guests

Jill Daniel, president and founder, Reno-based Estuary Capital Partners; Brian Bonnenfant, project manager, UNR’s Center for Regional Studies; Doug Puppel, online editor, Nevada Public Radio

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