Solar power projects that will increase solar power generation in Nevada by more than 100% over the next decade are located nearly 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The transmission line project, known as Greenlink, is a critical element of the renewable energy plan and will cost $2 billion to connect electricity customers to solar farms in Esmeralda County and other locations across the state.
Greenlink is an integral part of Nevada’s plan to move toward clean energy; It has been nicknamed the “Clean Energy Superhighway” as it will help the state meet its goals of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050. However, some environmentalists, tribal officials and Nevada citizens living near the proposed transmission lines speak out against Greenlink. They argue that the power lines will damage their country.
According to the current schedule, the transmission lines between Las Vegas and Yerington (“Greenlink West”) will be completed by December 2026. The other line being built between Yerington and Ely (‘Greenlink North’) is due for completion in December 2028. Legislation passed in 2021 requires the project as a whole to be completed by 2028.
In May 2022, NV Energy came under fire after the public commented that it may have other motives for connecting northern Nevada to nearby natural gas power plants in Apex. Some people believe NV Energy is only interested in profit and not the environment or public safety. Critics say NV Energy’s connection to solar is just a disguise for its true intentions with natural gas.
The nonprofit group Basin & Range Watch has criticized NV Energy, suggesting that the utility plans to use feepayer money to fund Greenlink and then sell the power generated by the project to California’s Silicon Valley. The group derisively refers to the project as “Gaslink.”
Conservationists are concerned about the construction’s adverse impact on wildlife, including desert tortoises, pronghorn antelope, sage grouse and bald eagles. They also worry that construction dust could damage the Joshua tree habitat.
Nonprofits and environmentalists aren’t the only groups opposed to NV Energy’s methods. According to a recent report, Caesars Enterprise Services and MGM Resorts have figuratively objected to NV Energy’s intention to seek federal compensation for the project. In 2016, both companies broke away from NV Energy after realizing they could find better deals elsewhere. MGM invested in building its solar farm, while Caesars chose to buy power from a Texas company; However, this decision costs each company millions of dollars annually: $87 million for MGM and $47 million for Ceasers. There will likely be lawsuits based on environmental impacts. From government officials to local business owners, most people seem to support Greenlink. One of the main reasons for this is that it creates thousands of well-paying jobs. It is estimated that Greenlink will create 4,000 job opportunities. In addition, it is expected that smaller towns along the route will receive an economic boost from the construction activity.
Some tribal members oppose the construction of power lines near reservations in southern Nevada, Mineral County’s Walker Lake and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. They believe it will upset the country. Some people have suggested other routes for the power lines.