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Federal land bureau moves forward on Ariz.-to-Calif. transmission link

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Ten West Link, a 126-mile, high-voltage transmission line between Tonopah, Ariz., and Blythe, Calif.

The project would largely follow the route of Edison International subsidiary Southern California Edison Co.'s existing Devers-Palo Verde 500-kV No.1 transmission line in an established utility corridor.

In 2007 Arizona regulators killed a similar project, proposed by SoCalEd, that would have run where the Ten West Link project is now proposed. Known as the Devers-Palo Verde No. 2 line, it would have linked with transmission facilities of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.'s Arizona Public Service Co., parallel to Devers-Palo Verde No. 1. However, the Arizona Corporation Commission feared that the proposed project would result in too much of the state's power being sent to California.

SoCalEd eventually built most of the California portion of the line, called the West of Devers Upgrade Project. The utility finally abandoned the Arizona portion of the project, which would have extended from the Blythe, Calif., area to the Palo Verde nuclear plant, 50 miles west of Phoenix.

The Ten West Link would be built in what was designated in 2007 as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor. BLM's Eddie Arreola, the supervisor overseeing the project team, said BLM would offer the Ten West Link developer a right-of-way grant if it decides to approve the project through a record of decision targeted for the spring of 2019. Before the developers could build the project, they would need approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission, he said. In 2008 the commission expressed a willingness to reconsider its earlier decision denying SoCalEd's proposal.

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Ten West Link would interconnect future renewable energy resources in both Arizona and California to the bulk transmission grid, according to Starwood Energy Group Global LLC, an affiliate of Starwood Capital, a private investment firm based in Greenwich, Conn., that is developing the project along with Abengoa SA's Abengoa Transmission & Infrastructure LLC. Together they have formed DCR Transmission LLC, which is the company proposing to build the line.

BLM's impact statement only applies to 83 miles of public land managed by BLM. Most of the line would be in the Arizona counties of Maricopa and La Paz, with the remaining 17 miles in Riverside County, Calif. The line will connect with existing substations, namely the Delaney substation in Arizona and the Colorado River substation in California.

The preferred route in the impact statement differs from the original proposed route, which would have cut through the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

The California ISO selected DCR Transmission to finance, construct, own and operate the project in 2015, after determining it was necessary to provide a second major transmission link with Arizona.