Nevada panel urges $3 billion on transmission lines

NEVADA - A state committee is recommending that power companies spend about $3 billion on transmission lines to connect possible renewable energy sites in rural Nevada to existing lines.

The Nevada Renewable Energy Transmission Access Advisory Committee proposed companies use tax-exempt state bonds to pay for constructing lines to transmit as much as 7,500 megawatts of renewable energy.

In a report delivered to Gov. Jim Gibbons, committee members said they identified energy zones in Nevada that could produce more than 5,000 megawatts of solar, 1,000 megawatts of wind and 1,500 megawatts of geothermal power.

Most of the renewable energy is in central Nevada and some is a considerable distance from existing transmission lines.

The 7,500 megawatts of power is about the combined record peak that NV Energy provided in summer 2007 to meet the demands of its customers in northern and southern Nevada.

"This will make Nevada the Texas of renewable energy," Gibbons said of the committee's recommendations. "I believe Nevada is now well-positioned by what you have done."

Renewable energy will be to the state's future what gambling was to its past, Gibbons said, adding the use of tax-exempt bonds will reduce the cost to consumers.

Committee members could not answer how much more ratepayers will pay for electricity if the transmission lines are constructed.

Thomas Fair, renewable energy executive for NV Energy, said it's difficult to calculate now because it's unclear what energy projects will be developed.



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