Map of southwestern grid transmission project, Southwest Intertie Project. Credit: DOI.
The DOE announced it is using Recovery Act monies to provide a loan guarantee for $343 million to assist a consortium building a 500 kV transmission line poised to transmit 600 MW of power throughout the Southwest.
The significance of this grid loan guarantee is that it’s the first of its kind, and most likely the first of many, as the nation’s push to integrate renewables into a national grid will call for a heavy network of transmission lines to transport the energy from its source.
The One Nevada Transmission Line project, or ON Line, is phase one of a two-phase transmission project, the Southwest Intertie Project. SWIP will link Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho to the entire southwest region and California. At the end of both phases, SWIP will consist of a 510-mile transmission system spanning Idaho to southern Nevada. The entire project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion, according to the Department of the Interior.
“As our country increases its use of alternative energy sources, new transmissions lines like the ON Line project will play a vital role in moving clean energy from one region to another,” says Steven Chu in a DOE press release.
“Traveling through several areas under consideration for wind, solar and geothermal power generation projects, this line will provide the critical transmission infrastructure to bring that potential to western communities,” said DOI Secretary Ken Salazar at the On Line groundbreaking ceremony last October.
The ON Line portion of the SWIP project is estimated to cost $510 million to build. The additional $167 million will be gathered from equity and debt from NV Energy, according to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
ON Line should be fully operational by early 2013. The full SWIP project has an operational date of 2014. Fund guarantees for the second phase of the project, known as SWIP-North, will most likely be granted in mid-2011 as Great Basin Transmission (contributing as a joint-venture energy company alongside NV Energy) anticipates having all permit requirements complete at that time.