RAPID/BulkTransmission/Nevada/Transmission

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RAPID

Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Nevada Bulk Transmission Transmission & Interconnection(8-NV)

The electrical grid in Nevada is part of the Western Interconnection power grid and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). WECC is the Regional Entity responsible for coordinating and promoting Bulk Electric System reliability in the Western Interconnection, including in Nevada. WECC also provides an environment for coordinating the operating and planning activities of its members as set forth in the WECC Bylaws.

Nevada is included in the WestConnect Transmission Planning area, which covers the desert southwest. In 2007, WestConnect established a subregional planning process and subregional transmission planning is being performed by various groups. In the northern portion of Nevada, subregional transmission planning is performed by the Sierra Subregional Planning Group (SSPG) and by the Southwest Transmission Planning Group (SWAT) in the southern portion.

SSPG is a collaborative study group that has been created to provide an open and collaborative forum where interested parties are encouraged to participate in the planning, coordination and implementation of a robust transmission system in northern California and northern Nevada.

SWAT is comprised of transmission regulators, government and environmental entities, and transmission users, owners and operators. The goal of SWAT is to promote regional planning in the Desert Southwest.

The following companies/organizations own transmission facilities in the State of Nevada: NV Energy, Bonneville Power Administration, and Valley Electric Association, Colorado River Commission, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Southern California Public Power Authority, Intermountain Power Agency and Western Area Power Administration.

Nevada State Office of Energy

The Nevada Governor's Office of Energy (NSOE) resides in the Office of the Governor, and sustains Nevada’s energy economy, promotes energy efficiency and conservation, research and development of renewable energy sources, and protects the environment.

The Office of Energy is working to improve legislation and initiatives related to energy efficiency including transmission development within the state. Although representatives of the Office of Energy do not have a direct role in the siting process, they are involved in advisory and task force groups that focus (all or in part) on the development of transmission lines within the state.

The New Energy Industry Task Force is tasked with identifying appropriate transmission corridors in the state of Nevada per Executive Order 2011-18. The Status of Energy Report addresses transmission issues as it relates to new energy production.

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) has the authority to site most high-voltage transmission lines within the state as authorized through the Utilities Environmental Protection Act (UEPA).[1] Proponents wishing to construct a transmission line within the state of Nevada that are greater than or equal to 200kV, must first obtain a UEPA permit from the PUCN prior to the commencement of construction activities. Permit approval is granted by the Commission, which is comprised of three Commissioners who are each appointed by the Governor to a four-year term. [2]

Exemptions from the UEPA permit requirements include, but are not limited to:[3]

  • Transmission lines with a capacity less than 200kV
  • The replacement of existing utilities
  • Construction of utility facilities under the exclusive jurisdiction of an agency of the federal government
  • Facilities owned by a cooperative or nonprofit corporation/association subject to the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Nevada Revised Statutes (N.R.S.) 704.870 includes the following requirements for filing a UEPA permit application:

  • Description of the facility and its location
  • Summary of any environmental studies that have been conducted, and a copy or copies of each study
  • Description of any reasonable alternative location(s) for the proposed facility
  • Summary of the benefits or detriments for each proposed location
  • Statement explaining the selection of the preferred alternative location

If projects fall under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and requires federal environmental analysis, then the PUCN implements a two-step process for obtaining a UEPA permit, along with notification through the Nevada State Clearinghouse.[4]

  1. The first step includes an initial filing of the application with the PUCN (and each other permitting entity), which is to be filed no later than the date of filing with the appropriate federal agency. The application must contain a description of the proposed utility facility and a summary of the anticipated environmental studies that will be conducted for the project.
  2. The second step requires that an amended application be submitted no later than 30 days after the final EIS or EA for the proposed project has been issued by the appropriate federal agency.[5] The amended application must contain the requirements described in NRS 704.870 and NAC 703.421. In addition to filing the application with the PUCN, copies of the application must also be filed with each other permitting entity and with the Administrator of the Division of Environmental Protection of the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Applications (including amended applications) require proof of service of the application to each local government in the area in which the project could be located and proof that certain public notices were published in local media outlets in the area in which the utility facility is proposed to be located.[6]

Example applications can be found:

  • UEPA Construction Permits Best Practices web page (Docket No. 11-04014):

http://puc.nv.gov/Utilities/Construction_Permits/Best_Practices/

  • UEPA Guide for Applicants – Electrical Facilities:

http://puc.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/pucnvgov/Content/About/Publications/UEPA_Guide_Electric.pdf

The Nevada State Clearinghouse, authorized by gubernatorial executive order in 1989, was created within the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Division of State Lands, to assist in the consultation process for NEPA projects that affect the state. The Clearinghouse ensures that all affected State agencies and other local governments are notified about a proposed NEPA project, and that they review the application, and has had an opportunity to provide input.[7]

The PUCN may not grant or modify a permit unless it finds and determines:

  • The probable effects on the environment
  • The extent to which the facility is needed to ensure reliable service if the facility emits greenhouse gases and does not does not use renewable energy as its primary source of energy to generate electricity
  • The need for the facility balances any adverse effect on the environment
  • Concerning the state of available technology and nature and economics of the alternatives, the facility represents the minimum adverse effect on the environment
  • All permits, licenses and approvals that are required by federal, state and local statutes, regulations and ordinances are obtained or in the process of being obtained for construction
  • The facility will serve the public interest [8]

Any party aggrieved by the decision of the PUCN may apply for a rehearing within 15 days after the decision has been issued. Any party aggrieved by the final decision of the PUCN on the rehearing may apply for a judicial review by filing a complaint in a district court within 30 days after the rehearing decision has been issued.[9]

The UEPA Guide for Applicants – Electrical Facilities (http://puc.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/pucnvgov/Content/About/Publications/UEPA_Guide_Electric.pdf) also includes several tips for filing an application and a list of potential federal, state, county and local permits that may be required for a project. This is not a complete list of all of the permits that may apply to a proposed project nor does it imply that the permits listed apply to all proposed projects.

Local Process
Local regulatory authorities include counties and local municipalities within the state of Nevada. In Nevada, the state has permitting jurisdiction over transmission line projects with a capacity of 200kV or more. Local government permitting requirements may also apply. Requirements and permits needed for construction of a transmission line will vary by county and municipality.[10] Some or all of the following elements may be required:

  • Special Use permit
  • Conditional Use permit
  • Building permit
  • Development Agreement
  • Dust Control permit
  • Grading permit
  • Major/Minor Stationary Source permit (Emissions)
  • Off-Site Improvement permit
  • Site Improvement permit
  • ROW Encroachment permit/ROW grant
  • Design Review Approval
  • Conservation Plan
  • Road Improvement Plan Approval
  • Site Development Plan
  • Building permit
  • Electrical permit

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Nevada Federal

State or Preemptive Authority: The Nevada Public Utilities Commission has exclusive jurisdiction with regard to the determination of whether a need exists for a utility facility. [3]
Transmission Siting Agency: Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN)
Transmission Siting Process: Nevada Administrative Code (N.A.C.) 703.421: Application for permit when federal agency required to conduct environmental analysis. N.A.C. 703.423: Application for permit when no federal agency required to conduct environmental analysis, amended application after final environmental assessment or environmental impact statement issued by federal agency
Transmission Siting Threshold: Electric transmission facilities over 200kV
Siting Act: Utility Environmental Protection Act (UEPA) [3]
Permit Authorization: UEPA Permit
Permit Processing Timeframe: The PUCN will grant or deny an application within 150 days after an application is filed (for applications not requiring federal review). The PUCN will grant or deny an application within 120 days after an amended application is filed, unless otherwise required under federal law (for applications requiring federal review). [3]

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List of Reference Sources

  1. N.R.S. 704 (1971). 820 to 900
  2. N.R.S. 703 (2014).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 N.R.S. 704 (1971).
  4. N.R.S. 704 (1971). 870(2)
  5. N.R.S. 704 (1971). 870(2)(b)
  6. N.R.S. 704 (1971). 870(4)
  7. State of Nevada, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of State Lands. Nevada State Clearinghouse [Internet]. State of Nevada. [updated 2014/03/12;cited 2014/09/29]. Available from: http://clearinghouse.nv.gov/
  8. N.R.S. 704 (1971). 890(1)(a-f)
  9. N.R.S. 704 (1971). 895(1)
  10. N.R.S. 278 (2014).
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