BLM Signs Record of Decision Approving a Right-of-Way for the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving a right-of-way (ROW) for the SunZia Southwest Transmission Line Project. The Project consists of the construction, operation, and maintenance of two parallel overhead 500 kV transmission lines located on Federal, State, and private lands from the proposed SunZia East Substation in Lincoln County, New Mexico, to the existing Pinal Central Substation in Pinal County, Arizona. The length of the transmission lines in the preferred alternative would be 515 miles in length. Three segments, totaling five miles of the Project in Socorro and Torrance Counties in New Mexico, will be buried in order to mitigate impacts to military operations at White Sands Missile Range. The impacts of burial have been analyzed in a Mitigation Proposal Environmental Assessment (EA) that has also been approved. The Project has the potential to add 3,000 to 4,500 megawatts of added electric capacity to the desert southwest region of the United States.
The SunZia Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provides a comprehensive analysis of potential environmental impacts that could result from Project development. The Mitigation Proposal EA analyzes the effects of burial, and compares those impacts to the impacts already assessed in the Final EIS. Approval of the ROD and the ROW grant follows an extensive public involvement process initiated by the BLM in 2009 to identify relevant issues and concerns.
The ROD, Draft and Final EIS, EA, and associated documents are available in the Documents section on the right.
The Director’s Protest Resolution Report on the RMP Amendments has been approved, and is located here.
Copies of the ROD and the Mitigation Proposal EA are available at the following locations:
- BLM, Las Cruces District Office, 1800 Marquess Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005-3371
- BLM, Roswell Field Office, 2909 West Second Street, Roswell, New Mexico 88201-2019
- BLM, Socorro Field Office, 901 South Highway 85, Socorro, New Mexico 87801-4168
- BLM, Rio Puerco Field Office, 100 Sun Avenue NE, Pan American Bldg. Suite 330, Albuquerque, NM 87109-4676
- BLM, New Mexico State Office, 301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508
- BLM, Tucson Field Office, 3201 East Universal Way, Tucson, Arizona 85756
- BLM, Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, Arizona 85546-3337
- BLM, Arizona State Office, One North Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85004 4427
The SunZia Project consists of two 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission lines originating at a new substation in Lincoln County in the vicinity of Corona, New Mexico, and terminating at the Pinal Central Substation in Pinal County near Coolidge, Arizona.
The Project will transport electricity produced by power generation resources, including renewable resources, to western power markets and load centers. The Project will enable the development of renewable energy resources including wind, solar, and geothermal generation by creating access to the interstate power grid in the Southwest.
The BLM was the lead Federal agency for the development of the environmental impact statement/resource management plan amendment (EIS/RMPA) for the Project conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and associated regulations.
The Final EIS/RMPA was released in June 2013, following an extensive public involvement process initiated by the BLM in 2009 to identify relevant issues and concerns. A 90-day comment period followed the release of the Draft EIS/RMPA in May of 2012.
Cooperating agencies participating in the development of the EIS/RMPA included: Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Park Service, New Mexico Spaceport Authority, New Mexico State Land Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Holloman Air Force Base, Ft. Bliss (U.S. Army), White Sands Missile Range (U.S. Army), Ft. Huachuca (U.S. Army), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Consultation has included other Federal agencies and local, state, and tribal governments.
To the extent feasible and practicable, the Project transmission lines will be located along existing transmission line corridors and designated utility corridors on Federal land. Two plan amendments were necessary in order for the preferred route to be consistent with the BLM’s Socorro RMP (2010, Socorro Field Office) and Mimbres RMP (1993, Las Cruces District Office). The plan amendments include modifications to visual resource management objectives and right-of-way avoidance area management.