Bill paves way for renewable-energy power lines

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A bill that would streamline construction of new transmission lines to connect renewable-energy projects' output to the main power grid is now before the Utah Senate.

SB76, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, would create a quasi-governmental entity that could bond for transmission projects for qualified producers of wind, solar and geothermal energy.

Renewable-energy companies, not the state, would back the bonds with revenue and contracts for production as the industry grows by increments, Bramble said.

The bill is considered a companion to HB430, which would provide tax incentives for renewable-energy equipment manufacturers and developers.

A state-approved map of renewable-energy zones shows that solar, wind and geothermal resources largely are in rural areas. SB76 would help boost rural economic activity, supporters say.

During a legislative committee hearing Thursday morning, Beaver County economic-development boss Rob Adams noted that up-and-running wind and geothermal projects need new power lines so the renewable electricity can reach the market.

"Electrical transmission has been one of the biggest headaches we've had," he said.