Wind damage causing three-month delay for Eastern Nevada power transmission line — cost to ratepayers unknown

Well, fellow ratepayers, it looks like that 235-mile, $500 million One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line for short) being built by NV Energy and LS power from around Ely to Las Vegas is going to be delayed for at least three months while the two companies and their subcontractors and their engineers and their lawyers figure out what to do about those power line towers damaged by high winds in Lincoln County in December. This is according to an 8-K form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

V-shaped towers damaged in wind.

Not cost estimate for the delay was forthcoming.

Cory Lytle, Lincoln County Building Department director, told the Lincoln County Record recently that several of the towers developed cracks in some welds due to vibration caused by the high wind. Lytle said wind tunnel and other tests will be conducted so the towers’ design can be modified without having to completely revamp the design.

The damaged towers are a new design, according to NV Energy. They are described as a unique V-shaped tubular structure, as tall as 164 feet and each sitting on a precast 6-foot cube of foundation. The towers are supported by guy wires. “The structure’s legs are also tapered at the top and bottom to reduce weight and provide strength where it’s needed,” NV Energy says. “Thomas & Betts fabricated these tubular structures using Cor-Ten weathering steel. Unlike other types of steel, a layer of rust is intended to coat the steel and provide a protective layer. The towers start off a rusty red and then become a dark brown color over time.

“The utility will construct 766 tubular guyed-V structures and an additional 90 three-pole dead end and regular lattice angle structures at various locations in the line.”

Sounds strong enough to me, but I’m no engineer. Dropped out of that major after a year.

The NV Energy writers boasted, “Thanks to strategic planning, a well-trained workforce and a solid design, the ON Line project soon will be providing renewable energy and reliability benefits to more than 1.2 million NV Energy customers and the nearly 40 million tourists who visit Nevada each year.”

Depends on your definition of soon.

Here is the pertinent text of the disclosure:

“NV Energy, Inc. (NVE) announced today that the in-service date for the One Nevada Transmission Line (“ON Line”) under construction in Eastern Nevada will be delayed by at least three months. ON Line was previously expected to be in service by December 31, 2012. The ON Line project is jointly owned by NVE’s operating utilities and Great Basin Transmission South LLC, an affiliate of LS Power. The delay is attributed to addressing recent wind-related damage sustained by some of the tower structures. As a result of the damage and as a precautionary measure, the ON Line owners have directed construction crews to lay down certain existing tower structures and cease erection of further tower structures until the owners have completed an assessment of the situation. Other construction activities that are focused on safety and are unrelated to the wind-damage are continuing while the owners work to resolve and repair the wind-related damage, ascertain the root causes of the damage, and otherwise determine what project modifications will be necessary to ensure project safety and reliability. As a result, NVE is also delaying the merger application of its two utilities, Sierra Pacific Power Company d/b/a NV Energy and Nevada Power Company d/b/a NV Energy.”

I’d just like a cut of the attorney fees on this little contretemps.

The installed cost of the unique tapered steel towers was said to be similar to the installed cost of the least expensive standard-issue guyed steel lattice structures. (Emphasis on the “was said.”)

6 comments on “Wind damage causing three-month delay for Eastern Nevada power transmission line — cost to ratepayers unknown

  1. Bill says:

    Sooner or later all the cost comes out of the pockets of the long suffering tax payers either thru rate charges or some sort of Government (read taxpayer) gimme!!

  2. Right you are, Bill, the Department of Energy provided a $363 million loan guarantee. Once built the line becomes equity against which NV Energy is allowed a fair rate of return, meaning rate money.

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  3. Steve says:

    If it is not broken yet, fix it until it is!

    We have a known fully safe design, time tested and in place. Cost is easily predictable so what do we do? Make a new design of course!

  4. Full employment, Steve.

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  5. Steve says:

    OH, sorry, forgot.

    Should have known that one, doing what I do for a living.

    A while back a software writer responded to my comment about buggy programs with the comment “there are no bugs, only features”

    Of course he was telling me they need to stay busy. If they were to write a program or OS as good as UNIX they would be out of work.

    A manufacturer rep once told me they need to keep their design engineers busy or they would get lazy. I had asked him why every 3 months a new design came out when the one before was working just fine and the new one was no smaller or more efficient.

    I apologize for believing we actually do things with cost benefits in mind when I should have known better.

  6. I call that make work, Steve.

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