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Lines for Transmitting Alternative Energy Urged

Jan 28, 2006 - Las Vegas Review - Journal

Gov. Jim Gibbons on Thursday accepted a report that calls for developing transmission lines so that geothermal, wind and solar energy can be shipped from remote areas of the state to cities.

In a ceremony in Carson City, Gibbons enthusiastically welcomed the report that calls for Nevada to develop its vast renewable energy resources for in-state use and for export to other states, said Dan Schochet, chairman of the Renewable Energy Access Advisory Committee.

Melissa Subbotin, the governor's press secretary, did not return calls for comment Wednesday and Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. said the report supports one of his legislative priorities to provide federal funding for green power lines.

The report, for example, includes maps that show zones with the best geothermal, wind and solar power resources. Reid last year introduced federal legislation that would establish zones for transmission lines and would provide federal money to build them.

"It looks clear to me from these maps that the renewable resource zones identified would warrant, all on their own, building a transmission connection between the Sierra Pacific and Nevada Power service areas," Reid said in a statement.

In one recommendation, the advisory committee urged the governor's office to support construction of a transmission line to connect Nevada's northern and southern electric grids.

This would allow Southern Nevada to use geothermal energy, which comes from hot underground water found mostly in Northern Nevada, analysts say. Alternatively, Northern Nevada could draw on solar power generated more efficiently in the hot southern end of the state.

The report called for the governor's office to support construction of transmission lines and smaller lines so that power from renewable energy plants could be connected to the electric grid. The smaller lines could be used to gather power from several nearby plants and feed them into larger transmission lines.

Former state consumer advocate Tim Hay said this would allow the complementary use of solar power and wind power, which produce power most effectively at different times of the day.

The committee also proposed that the governor direct the committee to start a second phase of work, dealing with financing mechanisms for renewable power transmission lines.

The state can take two basic approaches. It can use government money, possibly through a transmission authority like those created in some Western states, or it can encourage utilities Nevada Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co. to build green power transmission lines.

Advisory committee chairman Schochet said he expects Gibbons to direct the committee to study ways to finance renewable power transmission.

Reid said he looks forward to seeing the second phase of the study.

"The commission's general approach is consistent with the legislation that I have introduced ... the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act - to identify renewable energy zones and transmission constraints," Reid's statement said.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0420.

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