Renewable energy projects on books in Northern Nevada

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Completion of NV Energy’s Greenlink West power transmission line from Southern Nevada to the Fort Churchill substation near Yerington will allow for additional solar and renewable energy development in Northern Nevada. On top of that, two recently announced projects are slated to add more than 1,100 megawatts of solar energy and storage to the state’s power grid.

In early June, Arevia Power of Southern Nevada announced it had inked a power purchase agreement with NV Energy to provide 700 megawatts of solar power and 700 megawatts of battery storage to the utility from its Libra Solar energy project to be built in Mineral County. The $2.3 billion project would be the largest solar generation and battery storage facility in Nevada and is expected to be in operation by the end of 2027. NV Energy, meanwhile, also announced its intent to build and operate a 400-megawatt solar generation and 400 MW, four-hour battery storage facility in Churchill County.

Chris Brooks, senior vice president of external relations for Arevia Power, recently met with NNBW to speak about his company’s ambitious plans to tap into Nevada’s rich solar resources. Arevia Power’s flagship solar project will span 5,141 acres of land about 11 miles south of Yerington that is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

“This part of Nevada is growing, and the energy load is growing as businesses, data centers and manufacturing companies come to Northern Nevada,” Brooks said. “They have tremendous energy needs.

“A project like this needs a lot of acreage,” he added. “It’s hard to assemble that type of acreage anywhere in Nevada without the BLM. Nevada is a great area for solar – it really is a crossroads for energy load and generation.”

The Libra Solar project is still in the permitting stages. Arevia Power expects a final Environmental Impact Statement by the end of July, with a Record of Decision following as early as August. Once secured, Brooks said Arevia Power could begin preliminary construction activities such as conducting in-depth geotechnical sampling and engineering surveys. Construction also depends on obtaining project approval by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, he noted.

The power purchase agreement with NV Energy allows the Libra Solar project to be underwritten and funded, Brooks said. To date, project funding has come from private equity investors and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which is providing labor for the project and serving as an investor through GCM Grosvenor’s Infrastructure Advantage Strategy.

The Libra Solar project is expected to generate more than 1,100 jobs, including as many as 850 workers on site during peak construction, Brooks said.

Due to the remote nature of the project, accommodating a workforce of that size brings unique challenges, Brooks added.

“We are very close to Yerington and not too far from Hawthorne and Shurz, but all of the Mason and Smith valleys put together could never accommodate temporary housing for that amount of workers,” he said. “We will have to get creative with temporary housing and work with the county and local developers to make sure we are not having negative impacts on social services while still creating temporary housing for the folks who don’t want to travel.

“The project is about 90 minutes from Reno,” Brooks added. “We will have a combination of folks traveling, and temporary housing and permanent housing in those communities where there already are services.”

The 700-megawatt Libra Solar facility will be a single-axis tracking photovoltaic solar array. Solar panels laid out north-to-south will tilt east-to-west each day on a single axis point as they follow the path of the sun across the desert sky. Nearly 2 million photovoltaic modules will turn sunlight into direct current, where it will be fed to multiple on-site power inverters and changed to alternating current before being sent to a substation that kicks up the voltage up to 345,000 volts (345 kilovolts). From there, power will run on an approximately 20-mile generation tie line that will run adjacent to NV Energy’s new Greenlink West transmission line and terminate at the Fort Churchill substation.

NV Energy’s 520-kilovolt Greenlink West transmission line, meanwhile, will run 350 miles from Las Vegas to the Fort Churchill substation 10 miles north of Yerington. Construction is expected to start next year and conclude in May 2027, NV Energy said in a statement. Substantial upgrades are required at the Fort Churchill substation to handle the increased power capacity coming from Greenlink and Arevia Power, Brooks said.

“Once power from Libra Solar is put onto the power grid, NV Energy can move that power to where the load is,” Brooks said. “We have been working on this for more than three years, and we feel like we are at the finish line from a development stage. Construction will start pending approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.”

A third party could operate the Libra Solar facility, Brooks noted, as long-term operation of the power plant is a much different arena than its development.

The on-site battery storage facility will be able to dispatch energy when it's needed most, or store it on site if it’s needed later in the day when demand spikes, or at night when there is no solar power being generated, Brooks said.

“We will be able to tailor the output of this power plant to the load as it's taking place,” he said. “This is a project that is being developed by a Nevada company, it will be built by Nevadans, and it’s making power for Nevadans. It will create $250 million in direct wages during construction for Nevadans, and approximately $170 million in property and sales tax over the life of the system for the State of Nevada and Mineral and Lyon counties.

“It is incredibly valuable for the State of Nevada because it will keep rates low and reliability and availability high in those growing load areas.”

Doug Cannon, chief executive officer of NV Energy, said in a statement that the landmark partnership with Arevia Power is a testament to the utility’s shared vision of a cleaner, more sustainable future for Nevada.

“The integration of a large-scale battery storage system with the solar energy project ensures that we can meet our energy demands efficiently while significantly reducing our carbon footprint,” Cannon said.


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