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N.M. power up for grabs; Company wants to access various energy sources in New Mexico

Moving renewable energy resources from where they could be produced to where they have a market is the goal of one of the biggest electric transmission projects conceived of in the United States. The name of the project is SunZia Southwest and what the company wants to do is take a fiber cable 460 miles from the southeastern New Mexico area to the Phoenix area. ...The ballpark figure for the completed power transmission line is $1.5 billion, Crane said. "This is a very big project," Crane said. "It is important to understand the primary purpose is to enable renewable resources.

Moving renewable energy resources from where they could be produced to where they have a market is the goal of one of the biggest electric transmission projects conceived of in the United States.

The name of the project is SunZia Southwest and what the company wants to do is take a fiber cable 460 miles from the southeastern New Mexico area to the Phoenix area.

Consultant Ian Calkins said the idea began two or three years ago when Southwestern Transmission Group planners identified the need for this type of transmission capability to access New Mexico resources.

"It's about accessing renewable energy in the southwest," Calkins said. "In concept, we should have a high-voltage transmission line."

SunZia is essentially a group of six power companies which have an interest in developing access to renewable resources, he said.

The Bureau of Land Management is the lead federal agency working with the project, Calkins said

"The theme of this project is primarily bringing development to gain access to wind, solar and geothermal resources," Calkins said. "It is just the kind of project we need to be doing in the West to increase the amount of renewable energy."

The lines will have 3,000-megawatt capacity,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Moving renewable energy resources from where they could be produced to where they have a market is the goal of one of the biggest electric transmission projects conceived of in the United States.

The name of the project is SunZia Southwest and what the company wants to do is take a fiber cable 460 miles from the southeastern New Mexico area to the Phoenix area.

Consultant Ian Calkins said the idea began two or three years ago when Southwestern Transmission Group planners identified the need for this type of transmission capability to access New Mexico resources.

"It's about accessing renewable energy in the southwest," Calkins said. "In concept, we should have a high-voltage transmission line."

SunZia is essentially a group of six power companies which have an interest in developing access to renewable resources, he said.

The Bureau of Land Management is the lead federal agency working with the project, Calkins said

"The theme of this project is primarily bringing development to gain access to wind, solar and geothermal resources," Calkins said. "It is just the kind of project we need to be doing in the West to increase the amount of renewable energy."

The lines will have 3,000-megawatt capacity, Calkins said. One megawatt provides, on average, enough power for about 250 homes.

The lines would be "enabling access" to renewable energy and there would be several substations placed along the way for access to add or use the energy flowing through the lines.

Planned originally to go up the Rio Grande corridor, concerns about the migratory bird pathway have led to consideration of other routes, one of which could be through the Tularosa Basin.

BLM and SunZia conducted a preliminary scoping meeting Tuesday in Alamogordo, said Hans Stuart, New Mexico external affairs chief for BLM. The next step is for the BLM to develop a draft of the proposed routes and project, which it will then bring back to the public for comment.

About 45 percent of the line would be on BLM lands, 45 percent on state property and 10 percent on private property, Stuart said.

Utility companies in much of the West are being required to use increasing amounts of renewable energy, Calkins said.

Calkins also pointed out that many potential renewable energy projects will not even get started unless there is a guarantee that the energy has a market. This line provides the market, he said.

The SunZia project would provide area jobs and money to people who have energy projects, Calkins said.

"From BLM's standpoint, (the transmission line) is a great option," said Adrian Garcia, BLM project manager. "Instead of seven proposals (from seven utility companies), we have one proposal."

SunZia environmental affairs manager Gary Crane said there is no assurance the project will get off the ground and no decisions have been made.

The ballpark figure for the completed power transmission line is $1.5 billion, Crane said.

"This is a very big project," Crane said. "It is important to understand the primary purpose is to enable renewable resources. It's very important for America to wean off foreign oil."

The SunZia project is one of the first of its kind, Crane said.

The comment period for this stage of the project ends Nov. 27. To make comments, people can mail comments to SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, c/o EPG, Inc., 4141 N. 32nd Street, Suite 102, Phoenix, Ariz. 85018; Garcia at nmsunziaproject@blm.gov; or (505) 438-7424.


Source: http://www.alamogordonews.c...

NOV 1 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22944-n-m-power-up-for-grabs-company-wants-to-access-various-energy-sources-in-new-mexico
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