LAS VEGAS ( Associated Press) — The Federal Bureau of Land Management is gathering public comment as of Wednesday on a large north-south power transmission project that Nevada’s main utility, NV Energy, says is expected to support its statewide renewable energy network. Planning is the key.
The project, named GreenLink West, will span about 350 miles (563 kilometers) by the end of 2026 to connect power facilities near Las Vegas in southern Nevada and Yarrington in the north. It will generally run parallel to and east of the California state line. ,
Conservationists and protesters say they don’t want to see too much public land being disturbed, and members of a tribe adjacent to the route say transmission lines would adversely affect culturally important land.
Barbara Durham, a tribal historical preservation officer for the Timbisha Shoshone tribe, told the Las Vegas Sun that disturbed areas may include former village sites and areas where tribal ancestors found food and trade items.
The Timbisha Shoshone homelands are in Nevada’s Ni, Mineral, and Esmeralda counties, and California’s Inyo, Kern, San Bernardino, and Mono counties.
“We would prefer they go through pre-existing areas that are troubled,” Durham said. “No matter which way they go, they’re going to find the same thing.”
The NV Energy Project GreenLink plan will generate $690 million in economic activity and create about 4,000 jobs, company representative Jennifer Shurich told the Sun.
He noted that Nevada has an existing transmission system that is approaching carrying capacity due to increased growth over the past decade.
“GreenLink Nevada will alleviate some of these capacity issues and also open the state up to responsible renewable development,” Shurik said.
The second phase, GreenLink North, will run east–west for 235 miles (378 km) from Ely to Yerrington. It could be in service in 2028.
A north–south line is already in service, extending over 240 miles (386 km) from the Ely area to Las Vegas.
In 2021 the state legislature passed a law supporting a planned $2 billion GreenLink Nevada upgrade, including two new 525-kilovolt transmission lines to essentially connect the entire state.
The goal is 100% renewable energy and low carbon emissions, Shurich said, adding that the overall project is needed to “help Nevada achieve its climate action and de-carbonization goals and increase the renewables portfolio standard.”
Shannon Salter, an activist fighting renewable energy projects in Nevada and California, was among protesters at the NV Energy office in Las Vegas on May 19 who worried the project would harm desert ecosystems.
Salter called transmission lines a fire hazard, pointing to incidents involving Pacific Gas and Electric that sparked major wildfires in California in recent years.
PG&E, the country’s largest utility, agreed to pay last month Submit more than $55 million to avoid criminal prosecution for two wildfires and five years of surveillance in an effort to prevent more deadly blasts.
Salter said she thinks the better, though more difficult step, would be to install solar umbrellas in parking lots in the Las Vegas area, the state, and eventually across the country.
“Parking sites are these huge, untapped spaces,” Salter told the Sun, speculating that the canopies would provide shade for parked cars and generate energy without harming the desert ecosystem. “They are a true wasteland, this forgotten place.”
Public Comments Submitted to Bureau of Land Management Will form part of a record leading up to the final environmental impact statement to be published by May 2023.
A 30-day protest period and a 60-day governor’s review period will be followed before a record is released of decisions for the project in July 2023.