Nevada regulators OK solar power project that involves substation, power line

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, in a Feb. 8 order, granted Techren Solar application that sought the issuance of a Utility Environmental Protection Act permit for a project that involves a solar power facility, substation, and transmission line.

As TransmissionHub reported, commission staff, in a recent memorandum to the commission, recommended that the commission approve Techren Solar’s request for the issuance of a UEPA permit.

As noted in the memorandum, Techren in April 2012 filed with the commission an application for a permit to begin construction (UEPA Permit) of the Techren Boulder City Solar Project, consisting of a 300-MW photovoltaic solar-powered electric generating facility; a substation with 34.5-kV to 230-kV step-up transformers; about four miles of a 230-kV transmission line or three miles of a 500-kV transmission line; and associated facilities to be located in Boulder City, Clark County, Nev.

Techren in November 2016 filed a second amended application to modify the project description of the proposed facility to incorporate changes to the original transmission line to include a path to the Nevada Solar One (NSO) substation, a new access road, and two water pipelines to the solar field. The second amended application also requested that the UEPA Permit be issued in three separate phases to accommodate Techren’s construction schedule. Staff further stated that while Techren currently plans to build only 100 MW and a 230-kV transmission line, it has retained the 300-MW capacity in the project to have the option of building the remaining 200 MW, thus expanding the 100 MW PV solar array.

Staff said that it recommends that the commission issue an order granting the second amended application and approve Techren’s request for the issuance of a UEPA permit consisting of multiple phases for construction of the project, conditioned upon Techren obtaining and filing with the commission a copy of all required outstanding permits, licenses, and approvals needed for each individual phase.

As noted in the Feb. 8 order, the outstanding permits, licenses, and approvals for each phase include:

“-          Phase I – Solar field and related ancillary facilities: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – environmental assessment (EA)/decision record/finding of no significant impact (FONSI)

“-          Phase II – Gen-tie lines: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Endangered Species Act Section 7 Biological Opinion/Incident Take Permit

“-          Phase III – Access road and water pipelines: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Clean Water Act Section 404 Determination

The commission said that it finds that it is in the public interest to grant the application for the UEPA permit to build the project in three phases, contingent upon Techren satisfying the discussed compliances that must be met prior to the UEPA permit to construct being issued.

The commission said that it further finds and/or incorporates, for instance, that the benefits of the project balance any adverse effect on the environment; and that the project represents the minimum adverse effect on the environment, considering the state of available technology and the nature and economics of the various alternatives.

Among other things, the commission said that if Techren does not file all of the requisite compliance items set forth in the order within five years of the order’s effective date, then the order will be deemed to be vacated, without further action by or order of the commission.

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief analyst for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 10 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at .

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