The Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted on Tuesday to approve the Southwest Intertie Project. The 234-mile, $350 million transmission line will directly link the state's electric utilities in southern and northern Nevada for the first time.

Great Basin Transmission, which is owned by a joint venture of LS Power of New Brunswick, N.J., and Houston-based Dynegy, proposes to build the transmission line.

The 500-kV power line will run from a substation 18 miles northwest of Ely to the Harry Allen Substation 20 miles north of Las Vegas. Also this week, Great Basin Transmission, LLC announced a new report issued by Energy Strategies, LLC that identifies the significant of the Southwest Intertie Project.

The report titled “The Southwest Intertie Project: An Assessment of Potential Benefits” concludes that the SWIP will provide significant benefits to the Northwest and Southwest regions of the U.S and to the holders of SWIP transmission capacity. The report further concludes that cost savings to utilities in the Southwest for renewable portfolio standard compliance could be between $195 million and $500 million annually before accounting for the cost of transmission.

The benefits identified in the report include:

  • Increased renewable resources by providing transmission to facilitate wind and geothermal renewables located in northern Nevada and the Northwest and solar resources located in the Southwest
  • Cost savings from economy energy transfers between the Northwest and Southwest Regions
  • Cost savings for Load Serving Entities with obligations to satisfy renewable portfolio standards
  • Increased transfer capabilities for meeting future capacity and energy needs
  • Significant CO2 reductions by facilitating renewable resources and the efficient transfer of energy
  • Increased system diversity by connecting diverse generation and load regions
  • Renewable portfolio standard compliance by enabling the delivery of renewables to load

The report finds that renewable projects in the Northwest with access to the SWIP may have a significant cost advantage over renewable projects in the Southwest. The report also finds that regional wholesale energy price differences will create market opportunities for owners of SWIP transmission capacity. Further, the report identifies the opportunity for winter peaking utilities in the Northwest and summer peaking utilities in the Southwest to utilize the SWIP for seasonal capacity and energy exchanges thereby reducing or delaying the need for new resources.