El Paso Electric Access Road Amendment


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) received an application on January 26, 2012, from El Paso Electric Company (El Paso Electric) to amend their existing right-of-way grant for the Arizona Interconnection Project (Project). The proposed amendments include construction of permanent access to their existing power line for routine maintenance, emergency repairs and an upgrade to a portion of the line from static wire to fiber optic cable. The transmission line extends from a tie-in point just east of the Luna Substation near Deming, New Mexico, to the Red Hill tie-in point in western New Mexico, just east of the Arizona/New Mexico border and 12 miles east of the Springerville Switchyard near Springerville, Arizona. The transmission line crosses lands administered by the BLM, Forest Service, State of New Mexico, and private lands.

 

El Paso Electric received the original right-of-way grants NMNM 57058 (southern half) and NMNM 77514 (northern half), granted September 16, 1988, and October 11, 1988, respectively, and constructed the 345 kV line shortly afterward. Access roads to and along the right-of-way, as well as to each structure, were built to allow for the construction of the transmission line. Upon completion of construction activities, some of these roads were decommissioned while others were rehabilitated.

 

El Paso Electric states that routine maintenance and emergency repairs are a necessary component of transmission line operation. The company feels that in order to perform maintenance and emergency repairs on the Project line, the use of heavy equipment (e.g., pick-up truck, boom truck, bulldozer, backhoe, etc.) is necessary, which would require access to the Project right-of-way and to each structure. El Paso Electric proposes to use existing roads, where applicable, improve existing roads, where needed, construct new roads, where needed, and the right to clear a permanent 75-foot by 75-foot work area at each structure, and a temporary pad up to 100 feet wide by 100 feet long on one side of a structure when a structure requires replacement. The proposed Project also includes the upgrading of an existing static wire with fiber optic cable along a 20-mile segment between the Luna Substation and the Macho Springs Wind Farm.

 

The BLM is the lead Federal agency for development of the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed amendments, in direct coordination with the Forest Service, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy Management Act, and associated regulations. The EA will assess the potential environmental impacts resulting from El Paso Electric’s proposed action.

The EA will form the basis for the BLM and the Forest Service decisions to issue the right-of-way grant amendments.

 

The BLM is asking the public to help identify issues involved in granting a right-of-way amendment for the associated Project. The 30-day public scoping comment period is open until April 15, 2014. Comments may be submitted beyond this date. However, they may not be addressed in the draft EA, but may be in the final EA.

 

Public comment will be accepted until April 15, 2014.  Comments can be emailed to: blm_nm_sfo_epeaip_comments@blm.gov, faxed to 575-835-0223, or mailed to the BLM Socorro Field Office, 901 S Highway 85, Socorro, NM 87801.

 

For more information regarding the Project, please contact Virginia Alguire at 575-838-1290 or valguire@blm.gov.