News Releases

Alturus Intertie Set to Begin Serving Customers as Cold Weather Increases Demand for Electricity

Dec 20, 1998

Sierra Pacific Power Company
Contact: Karl Walquist/Bob Sagan
Phone: (775)834-4345

For Immediate Release

Sierra Pacific Power Company's new Alturas Intertie power line is ready to begin serving residents of northern Nevada and northeastern California. The 345,000-volt electric transmission line is scheduled to enter commercial operation on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

The power line extends for 165 miles from an electric substation in Reno to the Alturas, Calif., area, where it is connected to the electric transmission system operated by the Bonneville Power Administration.

"It's fortunate to have this transmission line in service as we enter northern Nevada's worst cold snap in several years and see an increase in the demand for electricity," said Alturas Intertie Project Manager John Owens.

"Efforts by Sierra Pacific employees and our contractors, Union Power and Par Electric, in building the line were absolutely superb," Owens said, adding that the project lost two months of its 10 month construction window due to bad weather. To make up for lost time, construction crews worked seven days a week for several months; helicopters were used to set poles along the northern half of the route; and three crews were stringing wire simultaneously.

Sierra Pacific Power Company began building the power line in February 1998, following four years of exhaustive environmental studies and reviews by local, state and federal agencies. The estimated cost of the project is $159 million. Of that total, about $27 million will go toward environmental studies and mitigation measures required during construction of the project.

The Alturas Intertie will nearly double Sierra Pacific's ability to import electricity from other utilities from 360 megawatts to 660 megawatts.* It will enable Sierra Pacific to purchase more low-cost hydroelectric power from the Pacific Northwest and provide customers with more choices for energy supplies.

The power line will improve the reliability of the region's electric transmission system by providing an alternate source of power. Sierra Pacific is currently served by three transmission interties with other utilities, as well as three power stations operated by the utility.

Sierra Pacific serves approximately 293,000 electric customers in northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area of California. *300 megawatts represents enough electricity to serve approximately 195,000 residential electric customers. The company's annual"peak" - the greatest demand on the electric system during the course of a year - has increased an average of 3 percent annually during the past few years. On Aug. 13, 1998, the peak demand reached 1,429 megawatts - a new all-time high. On Sunday, Dec. 20, the electric peak demand reached 1,289 megawatts at 7 p.m.