U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
BLM Arizona is applying the principles outlined by national BLM directives to consider regions as a whole in establishing mitigation policy. The Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy (SRMS) program follows best practices developed and employed by BLM Nevada in its mitigation plan for the Dry Lake SEZ.
Under the strategy, BLM Arizona is considering the potential impacts that utility-scale energy projects would create within the SEZs and surrounding areas. The BLM Arizona SRMS program is designed to identify potential impacts on natural resources in advance of an applicant seeking to build on the land. The strategy will help steer applicants away from conflicts or provide a means of offsetting impacts through compensation elsewhere.
The strategy also proposes to set a per-acre fee for developers that would fund agreed-upon mitigation measures. The industry favors this practice because potential costs are identified before developers propose a project on public land.
BLM Arizona has approved construction of Sonoran Solar in Maricopa County, Quartzsite Solar in La Paz County and the Mohave County Wind Farm. Construction has not started on these projects because their proponents have not secured power purchase agreements to sell the electricity that would be produced. BLM Arizona has one additional solar project application, and the Dry Lake Wind Farm is operating on BLM and Arizona State Trust Lands in northeastern Arizona.
Work could begin on the approved projects in a relatively short time.
Utility-scale renewable energy projects are only practical if there are means of transmitting the power to markets. Because the BLM manages broad expanses of land in the western United States, any major transmission line is likely to cross BLM lands.
BLM Arizona is assisting BLM New Mexico in planning for the SunZia Energy and the Southline Transmission Line projects. Each of these projects is proposed to begin in New Mexico and extend into Arizona.
The SunZia project is a proposed 515-mile, 500kV electrical transmission line from Lincoln County, New Mexico, to Pinal County, Arizona. It is planned as a means of carrying energy from New Mexico to load centers elsewhere in the West, fostering the development of wind, solar, and geothermal generation along its route.
Southline is proposed as a 360-mile, 345kV/230kV transmission line that would run from south-central New Mexico to northwest of Tucson. Of that stretch, 225 miles of 345kVwould be a new line from south of Las Cruces, N.M, to southeastern Arizona. An additional 130 miles in Arizona would be a rebuild of an existing line.
Arizona Public Service (APS) is micrositing the Sun Valley to Morgan 38-mile 230/345kV transmission line. Construction is planned for 2016. The transmission line will increase reliability of the Phoenix area grid and contribute to the overall transfer of energy by, ultimately, connecting to the Delaney substation, a central hub that connects the east-west grid to California.
APS in 2015 completed the 110-mile-long Hassayampa to North Gila II line. It will increase electrical capacity from the Palo Verde complex to Yuma and southern California.
For information about BLM Arizona’s renewable energy program, contact:
Supervising Project Manager
Renewable Energy Coordination Office
1 North Central Avenue, Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85004