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GridLiance proposes transmission line upgrades

GridLiance is planning some major upgrades for its local transmission system and while these could certainly help support solar expansion, company officials stressed that the two proposed projects are in no way dependent upon such development.

“Just the word ‘solar’ and people are groaning, because folks care… And I want to make something clear about how this works. The funding for these projects is approved and it is not contingent on any of the solar projects being built,” GridLiance representative Scott Whittemore told the Nye County Commission during its Feb. 16 meeting. “That is so important. If the wisdom of this body is to continue to say no solar, or whatever it is you all decide, this project is not contingent upon that.”

Diving into the technical details, Whittemore broke down exactly what the two projects, dubbed the Core Upgrades Project and the Johnnie to Beatty Upgrades Project, would entail.

For the Core Upgrades Project, an existing 49 miles of 230 kV single-circuit system, running from Sloan Canyon through Pahrump and Innovation and ending in Desert View, will be converted into a double-circuit system. The project will include a rebuild of the Sloan Canyon to Trout Canyon segment of the system to 500 kV double-circuit. For the remainder of the lines included in this project, they will also be upgrades to a double circuit but GridLiance has yet to decide whether it will be 230 kV or 500 kV. New transformers are to be added at Sloan Canyon and Trout Canyon as well. Finally, the Gamebird switchyard will be expanded and a new switchyard at Wheeler Pass will be built.

GridLiance is aiming to have all environmental reviews and associated approvals in place and to proceed with construction on the Core Upgrades Project by mid-2025.

The Johnnie to Beatty Upgrades Project is distinctly different from the Core Upgrades Project in that it requires construction of an entirely new system to sit alongside what is already there.

“The Beatty project constructs a new double and single circuit 230 kV system adjacent to the existing 58 miles of 138 kV VEA system,” Whittemore explained. “Super important, we want everybody to recognize the existing Johnnie to Beatty system is a 138 kV VEA system and we’ve designed this to be co-located, adjacent to that, to upgrade that system.”

As part of the Beatty project, several new switchyards will be built too.

The anticipated timeline to commence construction on the Beatty project is sometime around September 2026.

“And this is important. All structures will be less than 200 feet and are designed to naturally weather, to promote blending into the landscape,” Whittemore noted.

The benefit for Nye County would come in the form of investment, taxes and jobs, he continued. Estimates provided in the presentation outlined the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, as well as hundreds of construction jobs and tens of millions in personal property and sales/use taxes that would make their way into Nye County’s coffers.

Other potential benefits for both residents and visitors of the county would be access to the maintenance roads for the system for OHV traffic and possible future wildlife viewing areas. The development agreement with Nye County, to be discussed at a future meeting, could even include support for special projects in Nye County, such as the Pahrump fairgrounds or any other endeavor the county desires.

When asked about any jobs that would be sustained after construction was complete, Whittemore explained that the transmission lines are maintained and operated by VEA, hence those working on the lines, both now and afterward, are employed by VEA.

“We want this process to be super-transparent,” Whittemore remarked as his presentation drew to a close. “And we want the community to come ask questions like, ‘What’s in it for us?’”

Anyone with questions can email GLWinfo@GridLianceWest.com or visit the GridLiance West Core Upgrades Facebook page.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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