Lakewood,Colo.‒ Western Area Power Administration and the Bureau of Land Management have released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Southline Transmission Line Project, a 360-mile electric transmission line proposed to run from New Mexico to Arizona.
The Final EIS is the result of a major collaborative project that involved multiple state, local and federal cooperating agencies from Arizona and New Mexico. Of particular note is an agreement that provides the Arizona Game and Fish
Department with upgraded habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, and in particular sandhill cranes, near the Willcox Playa in southern Arizona.
“This joint effort with BLM and cooperating agencies is a testament to our great federal partnership,” said WAPA Administrator and CEO Mark Gabriel. “It is vital for communities, residents and businesses in Arizona, California and New
Mexico to have reliable, resilient power and protection for our nation’s natural resources. This final environmental impact statement provides the ground work for how to do both.”
a result of that agreement, a proposed route for the transmission line that
would have negatively affected the wine grape industry near Willcox was
avoided. In addition, another alternate route that potentially would have
affected Department of Defense operations in the Willcox Playa was avoided.
“This is an example
of how all the involved entities entered into a collaborative effort to find
solutions to an issue that affected local industry, national defense, and
wildlife habitat. By working together,
all of the interests were able to meet and resolve conflicts and in the end,
there is an amazing benefit to many wildlife species and to the public that enjoys
them” said Jim deVos, Assistant Director of Wildlife Management, Arizona Game
appreciates our partnership with Western Area Power Administration in working
with local, state and other federal agencies in development of the final
environmental impact statement," said Bill Childress, District Manager for BLM Las Cruces, N.M.
The Southline Transmission Line, as proposed, would involve 240 miles of new double-circuit 345-kilovolt line running from south of Las Cruces, N.M., to south of Willcox, Ariz. An additional 120 miles of double-circuit 230-kV upgraded line (upgrading an existing 115-kV line) would be built between Willcox and a substation northwest of Tucson, Ariz. The line would cross federal lands managed by the BLM and other agencies. It also would cross state and private lands.
agencies’ preferred alternative identified in the Final EIS was selected after
close consultation with the Department of Defense, Arizona Game and Fish
Department and other cooperating agencies, and the public. It maximizes use of
existing rights-of-way and consolidation with existing linear development, and minimizes
impacts to the environment and area stakeholders.
Final EIS includes the following changes to the agencies’ preferred alternative
previously identified in the April 2014 Draft EIS:
route around Lordsburg Playa in New Mexico now more closely follows existing infrastructure;
route through the Willcox Playa in Arizona remains the same, but additional
mitigation measures are established for sensitive
migratory bird resources;
route near Tucson was moved to avoid residential and economic developments.
New Mexico and WAPA are co-leads in preparing the EIS. WAPA is part of
the Department of Energy and is also providing development assistance for the
proposed project with Southline Transmission, LLC.
The official publication of the notice of availability of the Final EIS in the Federal Register began the 30-day administrative period after which the BLM and WAPA will issue Records of Decision. The agencies’ preferred alternative does not require amendments
to BLM resource management plans in either New Mexico or Arizona.
Final EIS and maps showing the proposed routes can be viewed at www.blm.gov/nm/southline.
more information, contact BLM National Project Manager Mark Mackiewicz at 435-636-3616 or email@example.com or for information on
WAPA’s involvement, contact Mark Wieringa, WAPA NEPA Document Manager, at
720-962-7448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Area Power Administration annually markets and transmits more than 25,000
gigawatt-hours of clean, renewable power from 57 hydroelectric powerplants
owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers in 15 central and western states. Western also owns, operates and
maintains a more than 17,000 circuit-mile, high-voltage transmission system in
its service territory. It is part of the Department of Energy. Learn more at www.wapa.gov.