Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Bulk power line for renewable energy hits roadblock


February 4, 2015

QCS Managing Editor

A transmission project that could deliver renewable energy from southeastern New Mexico to lucrative Southwest U.S. electricity markets has received approval from the U.S. Department of Interior, but has run into a roadblock from New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

The bulk-power transmission line would not provide an immediate benefit to wind energy developers in northeast New Mexico, but could eventually be a route for wind and solar power generated in the northeast region, Paul Stout, president of the Coalition of Renewable Energy Landowners Associations (CRELA), said.

The $2-billion SunZia project is designed to encourage development of wind and solar energy from New Mexico and Arizona and provide renewable power to the growing desert Southwest region, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The project is expected to create over 6,000 jobs during construction and support over 100 perrmanent jobs once online, the news release said.

Dunn issued a 60-day suspension to SunZia on Jan. 28, following a meeting with company representatives at the State Land Office in Santa Fe, news release from Dunn’s office said. The suspension will allow the Dunn time to review the SunZia transmission line project before any further development within areas impacting state trust lands.

Dunn pointed out that 89 miles, about 30 percent, of the line will cross state trust land, he said. “The fact that the State Land Office and its representatives were not invited to Saturday's announcement by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in Albuquerque is one example that the State Land Office and state trust land beneficiaries have not yet had a voice,” Dunn said.

The state land office will hold two public meetings for stakeholders and county officials --March 10 in Deming and March 11 in Socorro -- to discuss the SunZia project, Dunn’s news release said.

While the SunZia line would not provide an immediate route for renewable power generated in northeast New Mexico, Stout said, “we support all the new transmission projects in the state.”

The easternmost point of the SunZia Line will be near Corona, about 125 miles southwest of Tucumcari.

The project could channel up to 3,000 megawatts, the equivalent of the amount used by about 1million households at any given time, to electricity customers in the Southwest, according to an Interior Department news relase.

The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project would consist of 515 miles of bulk-power power transmission lines to interconnect with bulk-power lines in New Mexico and Arizona.


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