The BLM is the lead federal agency for the development of the EIS/RMPA for the proposed SunZia Southwest Transmission Project that is being conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and associated regulations.
Cooperating agencies participating in the development of the EIS/RMPA include: 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.
This project is proposed by SunZia Transmission, LLC. The company plans to construct and operate 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 purpose of the proposed Project is to transport electricity generated by power generation resources, including renewable resources, to western power markets and load centers. The Project would enable the development of renewable energy resources including wind, solar, and geothermal generation by creating access to the interstate power grid in the Southwest.
Release of this Final EIS/RMPA follows 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 in May of 2012. In consideration of public input and analyzing the consequences of the Project proposal, the BLM has identified a preferred alternative, approximately 515 miles in length. It is estimated that approximately 185 miles, or 36 percent of the right-of-way for the BLM preferred alternative, would be located on federally administered lands in New Mexico and Arizona. To the extent feasible and practicable, the proposed SunZia Project transmission lines would be located along existing transmission line corridors and designated utility corridors on federal land.
Two plan amendments are needed 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 proposed modifications to visual resource management objectives and right-of-way avoidance area management.
Record of Decision
A Record of Decision (ROD) will be issued by the BLM to address the alternatives analyzed in the Final EIS. The ROD will include the BLM’s decisions on (1) whether to approve SunZia’s application for right-of-way on federal lands, and (2) whether to approve proposed land use plan amendments for the BLM’s RMPs. The ROD is expected in February 2014.