PRESS RELEASE: A message from Mendis Cooper, OPD General Manager
January 23, 2019, Overton, NV. Since the power outage on Monday, I keep hearing a couple of common questions. I want to let everyone know where we are regarding some of these questions.
First, people want to know why we didn’t bring in power from Utah during the power outage. I want everyone to understand that we did bring in power from Utah to serve the hospital, the police station, a fire station, a gas station, and a grocery store in Mesquite. We brought in all the power we could from Utah, but unfortunately, with the existing load and the growth in the St George area along with some other technical issues, we cannot get enough power to serve the entire Mesquite area.
Next, people ask why we didn’t bring in power from Lincoln County Power District (LCPD). Lincoln County was affected by the NV Energy problem just like we were. When NV Energy loses a line that affects us, it affects Lincoln County as well, so we were both out of power. Later in the day, LCPD was able to secure a limited amount of power on the old transmission line that was built to serve OPD and LCPD back in the 1930’s. OPD crews started to go through the switching procedures to bring in some of that power to the Moapa Valley area. Again, there was not enough power available to energize the entire area, but our intent was to provide power to key locations. As we started to go through the switching procedures, we received word from NV Energy that the problem would be fixed within two hours. Considering the amount of time it takes to switch back and forth, we abandoned our plans to utilize the little bit of power we could get off of the old line.
Next, people want to know where we are at in securing a second transmission line. I want you to know that we have been working on this issue for several years. My staff and I have worked simultaneously with utilities and organizations in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada to secure a second line to our area. There are only two groups, both of which are in Nevada, that have the interest and the ability to fund such an expensive project. We are working closely with both organizations to build a project. We are near the end of the preliminary process, which is in the contract stage, with one of these organizations.
Finally, people ask why these things take so long. Honestly, I wonder that myself. Building the power line is the quick and easy part. The problem is before we can build a power line it takes a lot of money and years of planning and work with a list of attorneys, engineers, and government organizations. For example, we are surrounded by federally controlled land. It typically takes eight to ten years to secure a right-of-way from BLM. Load flow and operational issues must be approved by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council. Contracts need to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If space permitted, I could go on and share a long list of frustrating stories. I want you to know that I have and continue to meet with corporate leaders, attorneys, government workers, and elected officials to keep this moving forward.
I want to assure you that we are aware of the issues and we are moving as quickly as possible toward a solution. I think we are very near a resolution and I will gladly provide notice once it comes to fruition.