Public Meetings on New Mexico-Arizona Power Line

Public meetings on the draft environmental impact statement for a proposed power line in southern counties of New Mexico and Arizona have been scheduled for May.

Hosted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration, the meetings will gather input for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of the Southline Transmission Project.

The 360-mile power line will be divided into two segments, with the first section running south of Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Apache, Arizona, and the second one consisting of the reconstruction of an existing Arizona line from the Apache substation to the Saguaro substation northwest of Tucson.

Proposed by Hunt Power subsidiary Southline Transmission, the new transmission line is expected to provide a combined total capacity of 2,000 megawatts of electricity.

“The whole purpose of these meetings is to put out the adequacy of the drafts we have,” said  Mark Mackiewicz,  BLM national project manager.

Mackiewicz said prior consultations with regional stakeholders had reduced environmental concerns related to “greenfield acres,” but issues still standing include the potential impacts to a migratory route of sandhill cranes, the Tumamoc Hill ecological and archaeological site and the Department of Defense’s Buffalo Soldier Electronic Test Range in southern Arizona.

An alternative proposal to route the line closer to the U.S-Mexico border got a critical assessment from the BLM, Mackiewicz told FNS, because of economic efficiency considerations and the potential ecological impacts on a “more pristine” area.

“It’s not what we consider our preferred alternative at this point,” the BLM official added. “One of things about this transmission line that’s made our life easier is that they spent a great deal of time routing the line so it’s close to existing infrastructure.”

As it is currently envisioned, the Southline Transmission line will traverse federal, state and private lands.

Kicked off on April 11, the 90-day public comment period on the proposed power line will run through July 10.  According to the BLM, any written comments meant for the Final EIS must be postmarked no later than July 10, 2014. Mackiewicz said the final document should be finished by the end of the year, with the BLM’s “record of decision” issued during the first three or four months of 2015.

Persons interested in commenting on the project can do so by letter, e-mail or fax to the following address:

Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District Office
Southline Transmission Project
Attention:  Frances Martinez
1800 Marquess St.
Las Cruces, New Mexico  88005
Fax: (575) 525-4412

The schedule of public meetings in New Mexico and Arizona is as follows:

Tuesday, May 6
5:30-8:00 p.m.
Ramada Las Cruces Hotel and Conference Center
201 East University Avenue
Las Cruces, New Mexico  88005

Wednesday, May 7
5:30-8:00 p.m.
Mimbres Valley Special Events Center
2300 East Pine Street
Deming, New Mexico  88030

Thursday, May 8
5:30-8:00 p.m.
Lordsburg Special Events Center
502 West 2nd Street
Lordsburg, New Mexico  88045

Tuesday, May 20
5:30-8:00 p.m.
Benson Community Center
705 West Union Street
Benson, Arizona  85602

Wednesday, May 21
5:30-8:00 p.m.
Willcox Community Center
312 West Stewart Street
Willcox, Arizona  85643

Thursday, May 22
5:30-8:00 p.m.
El Rio Neighborhood Center
1390 West Speedway Boulevard
Tucson, Arizona  85745

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