Southern California Edison on Nov. 19 filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada a petition for an advisory opinion or declaratory order as to whether the proposed Eldorado-Lugo-Mohave Series Capacitor Project constitutes the replacement of “like facilit[ies]” for the purposes of NRS 704.865(1).
As noted in the petition, NRS 704.865(1) states in relevant part that a person, other than a local government, is to not begin to build a utility facility in the state without first having obtained a permit therefor from the commission. The replacement of an existing facility with a like facility, as determined by the commission, does not constitute construction of a utility facility, according to NRS 704.865(1).
The petition added that the project consists of the construction of new mid-line series capacitors, the installation of telecommunications lines and other related improvements on the company’s existing facilities in order to increase the power transfer capability of the transmission lines connecting the company’s Eldorado, Lugo, and Mohave substations, as well as to connect the project to the company’s existing telecommunications system.
The company said in its petition that one of the important expected outcomes of the project would be to allow the company to meet the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) to serve at least 33% of its retail load with renewable energy by 2020. The project would also ensure compliance with all applicable reliability planning criteria required by NERC, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, and others.
The project would take place on about 70 miles of the company’s existing right of way (ROW) located in Nevada and includes:
- Raising Tower M4-T1 along the Eldorado-Mohave 500-kV Transmission Line by a minimum of about 10 feet and adjusting the tower’s foundation to provide the necessary clearance required to meet National Electrical Safety Code overhead clearance requirements
- Removal of an existing overhead ground wire on existing towers on the company’s Eldorado-Mohave and Lugo Mohave 500-kV transmission lines, as well as modifications to the towers necessary to support optical ground wire (OPGW)
- Installation of about 70 miles of overhead OPGW on the company’s Eldorado-Mohave and Lugo Mohave 500-kV transmission lines
- Installation of about three miles of underground fiber optic cable at the Mohave substation to existing Tower M173-2 of the Lugo-Mohave 500-kV Transmission Line
- Installation of fiber optic cable at the Eldorado substation
- Upgrade of the existing series capacitor banks at the Eldorado substation
- Installation of new terminal equipment at the Eldorado and Mohave substations
- Replacement of the existing series capacitor bank at the Mohave substation
The company added that it is also conducting a review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) relating to the California components of the project, with a final CEQA document expected in January 2019. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will conduct a related environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in conjunction with the renewal of the company’s existing ROWs for the Eldorado-Mohave 500-kV and Lugo-Mohave 500-kV transmission lines. The company added that it expects a record of decision from the BLM in March 2019.
Due to the fact that the project would consist of upgrading existing facilities within the footprint of the company’s existing facilities and would not result in any new permanently disturbed acreage, or necessitate the acquisition of additional ROWs, the company believes that the Nevada components of the project represents a “replacement of an existing facility with a like facility” and “does not constitute construction of a utility facility” under NRS 704.865(1).
The company also noted that before seeking an advisory opinion from the commission, it informally contacted commission staff for an informal opinion regarding whether the project represents a “replacement of an existing facility with a like facility” and “does not constitute construction of a utility facility” under NRS 704.865(1). Staff concluded, in part, that based on engineering staff’s review of the environmental documents provided for the Eldorado-Lugo-Mohave Series Capacitor Project, it did not identify any portion of the company’s proposed Nevada activities for the project that would trigger a Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act filing.
The company added that staff also noted that the scope and nature of the company’s Nevada activities appear to be limited to replacement of like kind, existing facilities, and equipment replacement within footprints of existing substations.