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Will the lights go out?: Managing the energy grid as southern Nevada's population rises

Power Grid
Posted at 7:07 PM, Nov 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-20 22:47:28-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There are likely few people as passionate about green energy in Southern Nevada as James Katzen, board member of the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association.

Katzen built his own electric car, and it's not what many people would expect when they lay eyes on an EV.

"It was originally a Mitsubishi Mighty Max 1988," he said while standing in front of the old boxy two-door truck, "I call it the original Tesla."


To go along with the battery-laden electric truck, Katzen has installed solar panels on his home to help protect the environment and generate zero-emission energy.

Katzen called for people to generate zero emissions to help avoid the worst effects of climate change.

"We have to Hybridize if not go totally 100% electric and as quickly as possible," he said.

NV Energy, Southern Nevada's largest energy producer and distributor, shares Katzen's view on harmful gas emissions.

The company is attempting to be carbon neutral by 2050.


"We have a goal to be 100% renewables in our future, and we are moving toward that goal," said Adam Grant with NV Energy Demand Side Management.

The changes set to come are happening at the same time Nevada is experiencing a population boom.

Every new person that moves to Southern Nevada, every new home that's built, brings new demand to the power grid that has already expanded to support hundreds of thousands of new residents in the last decade.

Jennifer Schuricht, NV Energy spokesperson, said the company is ready to build infrastructure to meet the demand.


"We have been powering the growth of Southern Nevada for over 100 years," she said, "so keeping up with the growth is nothing new to us."

The largest infrastructure project in the pipelines for NV Energy is called Greenlink Nevada.

The project would give NV Energy access to new green energy production by building two high-capacity transmission lines, one between Las Vegas and Yerington Nevada and the other between Yerington and Ely, to complete a statewide triangle with Nevada's only large transmission line running between Las Vegas and Ely.


"Greenlink is going to unlock these renewable energy zones in our state. Solar, Geothermal, places that have never been able to be developed."

Before Greenlink, if someone attempted to build a power plant in the geothermal energy-rich regions in Northern Nevada there would be no way to move the power to population centers.

On top of allowing the generation of new electricity, Schuricht said the Greenlink lines would be able to pull power from other green sources outside of Nevada in times of high demand.

"It's allowing us to tap into resources across the West," she said, "hydropower in the Northwest, wind power in the midwest."

Schuricht said fears that the investment needed to build out new infrastructure would lead to increased bills were likely unfounded pointing to NV Energy's ability to phase out the use of coal power completely in Southern Nevada over the last decade while customer bills shrunk.

Our series “Las Vegas: Meadows to Metropolis” looks to answer pressing questions about how rapid growth is impacting Las Vegas. Tune in to 13 Action News at 6 p.m. throughout the month of November for in-depth reporting on the issue.