The 214-mile line between Nevada and Utah would be the first regional transmission line ever built connecting the two states. Construction is expected to start in early 2025. (Photo by Anton Petrus/Getty Images)
Cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable electricity may be in Nevada’s future after the White House vowed to deliver the largest electric grid infrastructure investment in U.S. history.
On Monday, the White House announced $1.3 billion in new federal funding to create three new, massive electrical transmission lines in the Southwest and New England.
Three new transmission lines will be built ,one between Nevada and Utah, another from Arizona to New Mexico, and a third through Vermont and New Hampshire before extending into Canada.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi said the lines will bring a significant amount of new renewable energy onto the grid, adding about 3.5 gigawatts of additional electrical capacity to the U.S. grid, or enough for around 3 million homes.
“This historic effort to strengthen the nation’s transmission will drive down costs for American families and deliver thousands of good paying jobs for American workers—helping communities keep the lights on in the face of climate change-induced extreme weather events,” said Granholm in a statement.
In Nevada, the balance between cost and reliability is a growing issue for power utilities. In recent years, a combination of coal plant retirements, population growth, regional competition for scarce resources, and extreme weather, pose both reliability and economic risks for electricity providers.
The proposed 214-mile transmission line between Nevada and Utah is expected to deliver 1,500 megawatts of additional electrical capacity to the region — enough to power an additional 1,000 homes — according to the DOE’s Grid Deployment Office.
Most of that power would come from solar generation in Utah, Nevada, and California, and wind generation in Wyoming and Idaho.
Renewable power delivered through the Nevada-Utah line has the capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19.5 million tons of CO2 between 2028 and 2050, or about 850,000 tons per year.
Between Nevada and Utah, the line is expected to create 4,100 direct and indirect jobs and stimulate roughly $761 million in total economic activity, according to the DOE’s Grid Deployment Office.
TransCanyon — the transmission developer for the proposed “Cross-Tie” line from Nevada to Utah — expressed hope the project would also provide access to new markets for bottling up existing renewable energy in the region, including new markets for surplus California solar power.
TransCanyon was formed by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which owns NV Energy, and Pinnacle West Capital, whose main subsidiary is Arizona Public Service, the primary electricity provider in Arizona.
The 214-mile line between Nevada and Utah would be the first regional transmission line ever built connecting the two states. Construction is expected to start in early 2025.
TransCanyon is now under contract negotiations with the federal government, which is expected to be settled in the coming months. The transmission program is administered by the DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, and funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
Still, despite the historic funding, the investment is not enough to cover the growing needs of the U.S. power grid.
The nation’s electricity system isn’t built to move electricity seamlessly from one end of the U.S. to the other, but energy experts have long argued that interregional transmission — that is, the ability to move power across regions of the country — is the best way to effectively utilize clean energy.
It seems the federal government is now on the same page.
According to a DOE transmission study released Monday, moving electricity from where it’s available to where it’s needed by increasing interregional transmission would have the largest benefits to customers in reducing cost and increasing reliability.
The clean energy transition, evolving regional demand, and increasingly extreme weather events are changing the way Americans use power and what they need from their power grid.
According to the study, projected power demands in 2030 in the U.S. will require interregional transfer capacity between the Delta and Plains, the Midwest and Plains, and the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest region.
By 2040, a decade later, energy needs in the U.S. will require new interregional transmission between nearly all regions.
Without more investment, the current grid will not be enough to handle future demand, including the growing energy demand for car electrification.
To meet the projected energy demand in 2035, the Southwest region — including Nevada — will need between 2.3 and 4.7 gigawatts of additional interregional transfer capacity to maintain electricity reliability during extreme weather events, according to a DOE report released Monday.
That means the Southwest would need to increase its transfer capacity with the Plains region by 914% relative to what’s available now. Additionally, the Southwest may also need to establish a more modest transfer capacity with the Rocky Mountain region and California.
“To realize the full benefit of the nation’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, we need to more than double our grid capacity and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda puts us in position to do just that,” said Granholm.
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