BLM hearings seek transmission line project input
Jun 3, 2009 - Julie Carter - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
A public scoping process has begun to identify issues involved in a proposal to construct a high-voltage 500 kilovolt (KV) power transmission line across southern New Mexico and Arizona.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hosting nine public meetings along the proposed SunZia Southwest Trans-mission Project study corridor in Arizona and New Mexico to collect public input.
They will oversee the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will identify environmental impacts and evaluate alternatives for the project proposed by SunZia Trans-mission, LLC.
New Mexico communities hosting open-house scoping meetings are Lordsburg, Deming, Socorro, Carrizozo and Elephant Butte. All meetings are will be held from 5-8 p.m.
The Carrizozo meeting is scheduled for July 8, at the Carrizozo Municipal Schools, 800 D Ave. The Socorro meeting is July 7 at the NM Institute of Mining Technology in the Fidel Center Atrium.
The formal announcement opening the scoping process and a 45-day public comment period was published in the Federal Register on May 29. The BLM is the lead federal agency for the process.
Cooperating agencies will be invited to participate, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New Mexico State Land Office and the Arizona State Land Department. Other state agencies and local governments will be invited to participate and consultation will occur with tribal governments.
according to BLM Project Manager Adrian Garcia, the suggested route for the line in the area of Socorro and Lincoln Counties is to run from San Antonio across to Bingham, turn northeasterly toward Claunch and then across to an area around Highway 54 between Ancho and Corona.
"The scoping meetings provide the public the opportunity to ask questions about the project and share their comments and concerns," said Garcia. "BLM staff and SunZia representatives will be available at the meetings to explain the project and hear the concerns of interested individuals."
Lincoln County Manager Tom Stewart said that it has been his suggestion to the BLM that the proposed substation be placed somewhere along the railroad tracks that run parallel to Highway 54.
The proposed route is about 460 miles long and will originate at the Lincoln or Socorro County Substation, and terminate in Pinal County, Ariz.
The line, or possibly parallel lines, would be located on federal, state and private lands. The lines would not be in close proximity to the municipalities of Carrizozo or Corona.
The purpose of the project is to transport electricity, generated primarily from renewable sources, to Western power markets and load centers.
Two wind energy companies, First Wind and Shell Wind Energy, have been working in the Corona and northern Lincoln County area for the past several years, and land-owners there have organized in their bid to "sell the wind."
Progress for the wind projects has been dependent on a way to transport the electricity out of the area once it is generated.
The proposed SunZia Project schedule lists having a draft of the EIS published in the summer of 2010 and the final completed in the spring of 2011, with right-of-way permitting to being that fall.
Construction and operations are scheduled for 2013.
In addition to comments given at each meeting, comments can also be made to the BLM via the project Web site at www.-blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/more/lands_realty.html or by email at NMSunZia-Project@blm.gov.
Comments may also be sent in writing to BLM, SunZia Transmission Line Project, P.O. Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115.
To be added to the mailing list or to submit questions, contact Garcia at 505-438-7424 or at the above email.