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Transmission developer Southline receives final federal approvals for Ariz./NM line

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Transmission developer Southline receives final federal approvals for Ariz./NM line

TheSouthline Transmission Project, a combination proposal of a new 345-kV line andupgrades to existing transmission infrastructure in Arizona and New Mexico, hasreceived its final records of decision from two federal agencies.

HunterHunt, president of Hunt Power LP,parent company of project developer SouthlineTransmission LLC, acknowledged receipt of the decisions, known asRODs, in a May 9 statement and said construction on the line should begin nextyear. Work will be done in phases, and the full line should be in service in2020, the Hunt statement said.

Thenew portion of the line is to run about 240 miles between the Afton substationnear Las Cruces, N.M., and the Apache substation, south of Wilcox, Ariz., witha new substation midway, in Luna County, N.M. About 120 miles of existingsingle-circuit 115-kV line owned by the Western Area Power Administration, or WAPA, running betweenthe Apache substation and the Saguaro and Tortolita substations near Tucson,Ariz., is to be upgraded to a double-circuit 230-kV line. The new and upgradedlines are to improve reliability and relieve congestion in the DesertSouthwest, as well as facilitate the delivery of electricity from renewableresources.

WAPAon April 5 issued its ROD, which summarizes its preferred alternative designfor the line. The ROD follows a final environmental impact statement jointly by WAPA and theU.S. Bureau of Land Management in November 2015.

"Allpracticable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have been adopted,"the ROD says.

BLMissued its own ROD on April 22, granting Southline right of way to build,operate, maintain and eventually decommission the new transmission facilities.For the upgraded transmission facilities, the right of way was granted to WAPA.According to the BLM decision, the preferred route totals 367 miles, slightlylonger than the developer had proposed.

BothRODs took effect once they were published in the Federal Register.

Anothercorporate affiliate, SU FERC LLC, in March began an open solicitation for capacity on the line.That will run through June 30.