[Federal Register: May 29, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 102)]
[Page 25764-25765]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Bureau of Land Management

[NM-114438; AZA-35058; L51010000 ER0000 LVRWG09G0690]

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and 
Possible Resource Management Plan Amendments for the SunZia Southwest 
Transmission Project in Arizona and New Mexico

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), New Mexico State Office, 
announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS), and by this notice is announcing the beginning of the scoping 
process and soliciting input on identification of issues and proposed 
planning criteria in response to a right-of-way application filed by 
SunZia Transmission, LLC (SunZia).

DATES: Comments should be submitted no later than 45 days after 
publication of this Notice in the Federal Register. The BLM will 
announce public scoping meetings to identify relevant issues through 
local news media, newsletters, and the BLM Web site (see below) at 
least 15 days prior to each meeting. We will provide additional 
opportunities for public participation upon publication of the Draft 
EIS, including a 90-day public comment period.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments or resource information by any of 
the following methods:

Web site: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/more/lands_realty.html.
E-Mail: NMSunZiaProject@blm.gov.
Mail: Bureau of Land Management, New Mexico State Office, SunZia 
Southwest Transmission Project, P.O. Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-
Courier/Hand Delivery: Bureau of Land Management, SunZia Southwest 
Transmission Project, 1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505.

    Documents pertinent to the right-of-way application may be examined 
at: Bureau of Land Management New Mexico State Office, Public Room, 
1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Telephone (505) 438-7471.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: For further information and/or to have your 
name added to the mailing list, contact Adrian Garcia, SunZia Southwest 
Transmission BLM Project Manager, at the New Mexico State Office, P.O. 
Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115, or by e-mail at 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SunZia has submitted a right-of-way 
application to construct, operate, and maintain two new single-circuit 
overhead 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission lines originating at a new 
substation in either Socorro County or Lincoln County in the vicinity 
of Bingham or Ancho, New Mexico, and terminating at the Pinal Central 
Substation in Pinal County near Coolidge, Arizona. The overall 
transmission line route would be approximately 460 miles in length, a 
substantial part of this length on BLM lands, and two separate 
transmission lines would be located on BLM, State, and private lands.
    SunZia's proposal is to transport electricity generated by power 
generation resources, including primarily renewable resources, to 
western power markets and load centers. The SunZia project would enable 
the development of renewable energy resources, including wind, solar, 
and geothermal generation, by creating access to the interState power 
grid in the Southwest and providing increased transfer capacity. The 
proposed project would also increase power reliability across the 
southwestern United States, allow communities in southern Arizona and 
southern New Mexico to economically access energy generated from 
renewable sources, provide power

[[Page 25765]]

to help meet growing demand in the western United States, and enhance 
domestic energy security.
    The Southwest Area Transmission Group--a regional transmission 
planning organization--identified a need for the project. Its 
importance is demonstrated by the abundance of proposed projects that 
have submitted interconnection requests to transmission owners within 
the proposed project area, and the potential for renewable energy sites 
within the SunZia project area. Additional transmission would be 
required to support development of potential renewable energy projects 
in Arizona and New Mexico. In addition, the requirement of each State 
to meet Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and national interests in 
energy, demonstrate the need for the proposed project.
    The proposed transmission line route and alternatives developed 
through the NEPA process would cross BLM lands in Arizona and New 
Mexico, as well as State and private lands. To the extent feasible, the 
proposed route would use existing transmission line corridors and 
designated utility corridors located on Federal land. One of the 500 kV 
transmission lines would be constructed and operated as an alternating 
current (AC) facility. SunZia may construct and operate the other 
proposed transmission lines as either AC or direct current (DC). The 
SunZia transmission lines would interconnect with planned substations 
along the route. Equipment additions and modifications would be 
required at each of the interconnecting substations. Engineering 
studies would determine those requirements as part of the project. A 
right-of-way of up to 1,000 feet in width and a lease-term of 50 years 
would be required to construct, operate, and maintain the transmission 
lines, structures and appurtenances. If constructed, the project would 
be in operation year-round, transporting electrical power to major 
substation hubs in Arizona and New Mexico. The project would have a bi-
directional transmission capacity of approximately 3,000 megawatts or 
greater of electrical power.
    The proposed project would take approximately three years to 
construct and would likely be constructed in phased segments with an 
in-service date of 2013. Specific acreages of access roads and 
temporary work areas would be determined through the NEPA process and 
project design.
    In Arizona, approximately 43 miles of the proposed route would 
cross public land administered by the Safford and Tucson BLM Field 
Offices. In New Mexico, approximately 128 miles of the proposed route 
would cross public land administered by the BLM Las Cruces District 
Office and BLM Socorro Field Office. The proposed route would pass in 
the general vicinity of the following locations:

Arizona: Coolidge, San Manuel, Safford, Willcox, Bowie, and San Simon; 
New Mexico: Lordsburg, Deming, Hatch, Derry, Arrey, Truth or 
Consequences, San Antonio, Bingham, Ancho, and Carrizozo.

The BLM is the lead Federal agency for the NEPA analysis process and 
preparation of the EIS. Cooperating agencies identified at this time 
could include: The Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, the New Mexico State Land Office, and the Arizona State Land 
Department. Other State and local governments will be invited to 
participate in the process, and consultation will occur with local, 
State, and tribal governments.
    The purpose of the public scoping process is to determine relevant 
issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, 
including alternatives, and guide the process for developing the EIS. 
At present, the BLM has identified the following preliminary issues: 
The potential effects of the proposed action on wildlife habitat, 
plants, and animals including threatened, endangered, and sensitive 
species, visual resources, National Historic Trails and related 
viewsheds; Native American traditional cultural properties and sacred 
places; soils/water from surface disturbing activities; local and 
regional socioeconomic conditions; consistency with local government 
land use plans; and future reclamation/mitigation from transmission 
line construction or location. The BLM encourages the public to send 
comments concerning the project as proposed, other feasible alternative 
locations, possible mitigation measures, and any other information 
relevant to the proposed action.
    Authorization of this proposal may require amendments to one or 
more RMPs. By this notice, the BLM is complying with requirements in 43 
CFR 1610.2(c) to notify the public of potential RMP amendments, 
predicated on the findings of the EIS. If RMP amendments are necessary, 
the BLM will integrate the RMP process with the NEPA process for this 
    Your input is important and will be considered in the public 
scoping process. All comment submittals must include the commenter's 
name and street address. Comments including the names and addresses of 
the commenter will be available for public inspection at the above 
offices during business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays. Before including your address, phone 
number, e-mail address, or any other personal identifying information 
in your comment, be advised that your entire comment, including your 
personal identifying information, may be publicly available at any 
time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public 
review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that 
we will be able to do so.

William Merhege,
Acting Deputy State Director, Lands and Resources.
[FR Doc. E9-12512 Filed 5-28-09; 8:45 am]