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When completed, the Greenlink Nevada project will connect the state's major load centers with federal Solar Energy Zones and the existing One Nevada Line. Additional transmission projects are likely to extend to points east, west and north, enhancing resource availability within the Western Energy Imbalance Market.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada at a March 22 meeting approved more than 600 miles of key transmission lines that the state's regulated utility says will enable it to meet Nevada's goals of 50-percent emissions-free power by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

NV Energy's Greenlink Nevada project will also improve resource flexibility, system reliability, and import and export capacity on the Western grid, the company said. The project will connect two 525-kV lines to the existing One Nevada Line, which runs from the Robinson Summit Substation in White Pine County south to the Las Vegas area.

Greenlink West, an approximately 350-mile line, constitutes the project's first phase. It will run along the southwestern edge of the state from the Harry Allen Substation in Clark County near Las Vegas north to interconnect at the Fort Churchill Substation in Yerington south of Reno. The Greenlink West segment also includes a new Fort Churchill substation and three 345-kV lines that will serve major load pockets in the Reno area. Greenlink West, including the 345-kV lines into Reno, is expected to be in service by December 2026.

Phase 2 of the project, Greenlink North, will complete the jagged triangle through an interconnection at Fort Churchill that will run 235 miles east to Robinson Summit, where it will connect with One Nevada. NV Energy has not yet requested construction approval for Greenlink North, but anticipates it will be in service by December 2031. The PUCN's approval includes permit, design and land acquisition for the line [20-07023].

NV Energy in an October document describing the project said that while Nevada is rich in solar and geothermal resources, it lacks sufficient opportunities for wind and hydroelectric generation. It will be impossible to meet the state's renewable-energy goals without strategically placed new transmission infrastructure, the company said.

Robinson Summit Substation, where the project will eventually connect in eastern Nevada, is considered a strategic future hub because of its location and other planned transmission projects. LS Power's 270-mile, 500-kV Southwest Intertie Project-North, expected to go on line in 2024, would connect One Nevada to Idaho Power and Bonneville Power Administration resources (see CEM No. 1605). TransCanyon's 213-mile, 500-kV Cross-Tie project, in early development, would connect the ON Line to Utah resources. Both are proposing to connect at Robinson Summit, which would enable access to wind and hydroelectric resources not currently available within Nevada and facilitate participation in the California Independent System Operator's Western Energy Imbalance Market.

The Greenlink project, in which NV Energy is investing more than $2.5 billion, runs through three undeveloped U.S. Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Zones and will allow for the development of approximately 5,000 MW of renewable projects in the state, according to a March 22 news release from NV Energy. Greenlink West will facilitate access to the SEZs with two collector stations along the line intended to integrate renewable generation.

"With vast access to solar resources across Nevada, the state will have the opportunity to harness this energy as a net exporter to the western grid, a benefit that is currently hindered by limited transmission access to renewable development," NV Energy said in the October document.

Cameron Dyer, staff attorney for Western Resource Advocates in Nevada, in a news release following the PUCN approval said the project will open "economic opportunities for Interior West states to market their renewable resources to West Coast states while improving efficient use of energy resources across the region."

In addition to thousands of construction jobs, the project will provide infrastructure to support economic growth in Nevada's population centers and elsewhere in the state in the hope of enhancing COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak in the NV Energy release applauded the company for its support of the state's long-term economic recovery, and said the project "exemplifies the potential of [his] vision for Nevada's new energy economy." Doug Cannon, CEO and president of NV Energy, said the project will bring "tremendous economic and environmental benefits . . . to rural communities and the entire state."

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Associate Editor - California Energy Markets

Abigail Sawyer grew up in northwestern New Mexico near two massive coal-fired power plants. She spent many hours gazing out the car window at transmission lines on family road trips across the Southwest and now reports on the region from San Francisco.