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SunZia power transmission line could run through White Sands, Las Cruces

A power transmission line that could be the first in the United States to transport renewable energy might pass through Las Cruces and White Sands Missile Range, according to preliminary plans of the SunZia Transmission Project. A public scoping meeting was conducted Monday at Court Youth Center to provide interested residents with information about the project. Plans call for wind energy generated in east-central New Mexico, near Clovis, to be transported 460 to 560 miles to a substation in south-central Arizona.

LAS CRUCES - A power transmission line that could be the first in the United States to transport renewable energy might pass through Las Cruces and White Sands Missile Range, according to preliminary plans of the SunZia Transmission Project.

A public scoping meeting was conducted Monday at Court Youth Center to provide interested residents with information about the project. Plans call for wind energy generated in east-central New Mexico, near Clovis, to be transported 460 to 560 miles to a substation in south-central Arizona, near Phoenix, where the energy could be sold to power companies in the western U.S.

"This would be the first project in the U.S.," said Amy Corathers, spokeswoman for Environmental Planning Group, a Phoenix-based company that will serve as a third-party environmental contractor for the Bureau of Land Management that will prepare an environmental impact statement for the project. "No other project in the U.S. is as far along in the process as the SunZia Transmission Project."

The project targets renewable energy sources that can be generated and sold with electricity. Arizona and New Mexico have established future requirements of how much of each state's marketable energy... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

LAS CRUCES - A power transmission line that could be the first in the United States to transport renewable energy might pass through Las Cruces and White Sands Missile Range, according to preliminary plans of the SunZia Transmission Project.

A public scoping meeting was conducted Monday at Court Youth Center to provide interested residents with information about the project. Plans call for wind energy generated in east-central New Mexico, near Clovis, to be transported 460 to 560 miles to a substation in south-central Arizona, near Phoenix, where the energy could be sold to power companies in the western U.S.

"This would be the first project in the U.S.," said Amy Corathers, spokeswoman for Environmental Planning Group, a Phoenix-based company that will serve as a third-party environmental contractor for the Bureau of Land Management that will prepare an environmental impact statement for the project. "No other project in the U.S. is as far along in the process as the SunZia Transmission Project."

The project targets renewable energy sources that can be generated and sold with electricity. Arizona and New Mexico have established future requirements of how much of each state's marketable energy must come from renewable sources.

The study area being considered in New Mexico includes the 3,200 square miles of White Sands Missile Range and portions of the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge. Several paths for a transmission line have been proposed, including one that could travel through the wildlife refuge and another that would travel through the western boundary of WSMR.

The proposed line would travel just west of Las Cruces, cross Interstate 10, and travel parallel to the south of the highway to a substation just south of Phoenix.

"What people need to understand is that this project is definitely in the initial stages," said Adrian Garcia, project manager for the BLM. "We're at the point where we're just gathering comments and concerns from the public. By no means have any definitive or specific plans or decisions been made. We're probably at least a year away before we have a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that would have a preferred option."

When a draft EIS is released, likely in late summer next year, there would be a 90-day public review. In the spring of 2011 a final EIS is scheduled to be released and a 30-day public review would be conducted.

A final record of decision wouldn't be issued by the BLM until the fall of 2011 and construction and operation of the proposed transmission line wouldn't begin until 2013.

Ian Calkins, spokesman for Copper State Consulting Group, said nine public meetings have been conducted so far throughout Arizona and New Mexico. He said public sentiment so far appears to be supportive of the project.

"People appear to be favorable about renewables," Calkins said. "They like the idea of renewable energy. The concerns so far appear to be about where it's going to be located, in terms of how close the transmission lines could be to populated areas."

Mark Etherton, a SunZia engineer, said the transmission lines would not be located in metropolitan areas. He added that the transmission lines would be capable of handling large loads of wind-generated energy.

"The lines would be capable of carrying well over 10,000 megawatts of wind power," Etherton said.

Las Cruces resident Raul Griego, a retired engineer, said the project appears to be a good one for New Mexico.

"My initial feelings are that this could really be a boon for the state," Griego said. "Many of the energy experts agree that New Mexico could be one of the prime locations in the country to be a leader in renewables. Eastern New Mexico is an excellent wind source and Las Cruces is a prime area for solar energy. As long as they can minimize the environmental impacts on open spaces, this could be a very good project for the future of Las Cruces and New Mexico."

Transporting renewable energy

• The SunZia Transmission Project proposes transporting wind energy from east-central New Mexico to south-central Arizona, near Phoenix.

• As many as two 500 kilovolt high-voltage electrical lines would be used to transport the renewable energy.

• The transmission line could be 460 to 560 miles long, depending on path it would take.

• The proposed transmission line could travel through Do-a Ana, Luna and Hidalgo counties, along Interstate 10.

• The proposed transmission line might travel through White Sands Missile Range.

• A draft Environmental Impact Statement, with a preferred option for locating the proposed transmission line, probably won't be publicly released for another year.

• Two more public scoping meetings, sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management, will be conducted from 5 to 8 p.m. today at First National Bank, 414 Tenth St., in Alamogordo, and from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Chaparral High School, 800 County Line Drive.


Source: http://www.scsun-news.com/c...

OCT 27 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22858-sunzia-power-transmission-line-could-run-through-white-sands-las-cruces
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