News Releases

New Transmission Line Delivers Power To Northern Nevada, Northeastern California

May 23, 2004

Sierra Pacific Power Company
Contact: Karl Walquist
Phone: (775) 834-3891

For Immediate Release

A new 345,000-volt electric transmission line which will allow an additional 250 megawatts of electricity to be delivered to northern Nevada and northeastern California has been placed in service by Sierra Pacific Power. (One megawatt of electricity has enough energy to serve approximately 650 homes.)

Construction of the Falcon to Gonder transmission project began in March 2003 and was completed two weeks ahead of schedule. The line spans 180 miles between the Gonder Substation a few miles north of Ely and the Falcon Substation, which is located west of Carlin in Dunphy. About 80 percent of the line is located on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The line provides Sierra Pacific with an additional transmission connection near the Nevada/Utah border to the electric systems operated by PacifiCorp and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

"The project is regionally significant because it will improve reliability and the economics of moving power, not only for Sierra Pacific but for Mt. Wheeler Power, the Western Area Power Administration and Bonneville Power Administration,"said Sierra Pacific Vice President Mike Smart, who's responsible for the utility's electric distribution and transmission systems.

The cost of the project will be approximately $110 million.

Smart said the additional power made available by the line will help satisfy the growing demand for electricity in Sierra Pacific's 50,000 square mile service area. Sierra Pacific's peak demand for electricity reached 1,657 megawatts - a new all-time record - on July 30, 2003, and peak demand is expected to near 1,700 megawatts this summer. Sierra Pacific serves more than 334,000 electric customers in northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area of northeastern California.

The project was selected in 1999 by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada as the best option for expanding the capacity of Sierra Pacific's electric system.

Sierra Pacific's network of high voltage electric transmission lines enables the utility to supplement the electricity generated at its three major Nevada power stations with energy imported from other utilities throughout the West. Sierra Pacific has other electric transmission lines that are connected to transmission grids in Idaho, California, Utah and Oregon.

The official dedication of the project is scheduled for Tuesday, June 8, in Ely. Among those attending will be representatives of Va Tech Elin, the Austrian firm that supplied the electrical transformers for the expanded Gonder substation.

Falcon to Gonder Project -- Fact Sheet

  • The Falcon to Gonder Project is a 345,000-volt electric transmission line that extends for 180 miles from a substation six miles north of Ely west to a substation along Interstate 80 at Dunphy, Nevada, approximately 29 miles west of Carlin, Nevada.
  • The line will allow Sierra Pacific Power to import an additional 250 megawatts of electricity to serve its customers.
  • The line will increase the company's total import capabilities by one-third, from 750 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts.
  • Sierra Pacific Power has more than 334,000 electric customers. Of that total, approximately 45,000 reside in the Lake Tahoe area of California.
  • Construction began in March 2003 and the line was completed and placed in service on May 13, 2004.
  • Total cost of the project will be approximately $110 million.
  • Falcon to Gonder consists of 735 steel, h-frame towers. The towers range in height from 75 to 130 feet above ground.
  • Each steel tower weighs between 13,000 and 23,000 pounds. The power line includes approximately 1,100 miles of aluminum wire or"conductor."
  • Each of the two transformers installed at the Gonder Substation weighs 332,000 pounds. (A transformer is an electrical device used to increase or decrease voltage.)
  • The last 345,000-volt transmission line built by Sierra Pacific Power was the Alturas Intertie between Reno and the Alturas, Calif., area which entered commercial operation on Dec. 22, 1998. The Alturas Intertie is 165 miles long.