The Regulatory Operations Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, in June 5 comments, recommended that the commission grant a petition filed by GridLiance West LLC for an advisory opinion or declaratory order seeking a determination as to whether the company’s proposed replacement of a 230-kV transmission line and 20 transmission towers, with the addition of one new tower, constitutes a “like facility.”
The Utility Environmental Protection Act (UEPA), Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 704.820 to 704.900, inclusive, is an environmental act that was adopted to minimize any adverse effect upon the environment and upon the quality of life of the people of the state, which such new facilities might cause, staff noted.
In this instance, no new facilities are required to be built and, thus, no additional environmental reviews are required, staff said.
Staff said that it recommends that the commission find that the project is a replacement of “like kind, existing facilities, and equipment replacement within footprints of existing transmission towers,” and to determine that the project does not require a UEPA permit to construct.
GridLiance’s petition describes the replacement transmission towers as more modern high-voltage structures that are sized to carry heavier conductors through an area with high-voltage crossings. Staff added that GridLiance represents that the replacement transmission towers would be installed in the identical or nearly identical locations to the current structures, and one new structure would be located on the existing right of way (ROW) as the first structure outside of the Meade substation.
As noted in GridLiance’s May 28 petition, GridLiance in 2017 purchased the high-voltage assets of Valley Electric Association, which included about 13.6 miles of 230-kV transmission line extending from the Sloan Canyon switchyard – the construction of which is in progress – to the Mead substation in the Eldorado Valley portion of the City of Boulder City, Clark County, Nev.
While about 11 miles of the line – like the Sloan Canyon switchyard – is within the incorporated City of Boulder City and therefore not subject to the UEPA, about 2.6 miles of the transmission line is located on land owned by the U.S. government and is administered by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Discussing the project, GridLiance said that the towers that are currently installed are a combination of monopole, H-frame, 3-pole and lattice structures. Those would be replaced with modern and environmentally preferable structures, the company said.
Among other things, GridLiance said that the new towers would vary from 40 feet less to 55 feet more than the current towers, but given the location of the towers in the Eldorado Valley – which GridLiance said is an area of significant renewable energy and transmission development well outside the populated portion of Boulder City – the height difference would not have an impact on neighbors.