Salt River Project gathers public input on transmission enhancements southeast of Phoenix

Salt River Project (SRP) is seeking public input on a proposed 230-kV transmission project intended to improve reliability and serve large commercial and light industrial customers in the Phoenix suburbs of Tempe and Chandler, Ariz.

The project, called the Price Road Corridor 230-kV project, is proposed to include new power lines and two new 230-kV substations to serve a number of large commercial customers that require large amounts of electricity to operate, including data centers, computer chip manufacturers and other types of light industry. 

The Price Road Corridor, adjacent to Price Road in south Tempe and southwest Chandler, has a significant amount of land available for development, making the area ripe for future development.

“That expansion cannot take place unless we bring these new 230-kV facilities into that area,” Tom Novy, SRP project manager, told TransmissionHub April 2.

The current transmission capacity in the area will not be sufficient to serve projected growth in the future, as SRP is anticipating the area will be home to a significant increase in the number of businesses in the near future, he said.

“Our 230-kV substations typically serve about a 50 square mile area,” Novy said. “The Price Road Corridor already uses over 400 MW in just five square miles, where you’d typically be able to serve 25 square miles.”

The utility’s existing 69-kV system is capable of handing about 580 MW, a level he said will be reached in a little more than three years. Accordingly, by May 1, 2016, the utility will need to energize a 230-kV transmission line and at least one substation to meet current demand growth.

As proposed, the project will include a new single-circuit 230-kV power line along the southern portion of the corridor to connect the Schrader substation south of Chandler with a new RS-28 substation approximately five miles to the west. Enhancements in the northern portion of the corridor will include a new double-circuit 230-kV power line that will connect the Knox substation located near I-10 and State Route 202 at the western end of the corridor with a new 230-kV RS-27 substation approximately five miles to the east.

In addition, a double-circuit 230-kV line will connect the two new substations, and a single-circuit 230-kV power line will be added to connect the existing Knox substation to the Kyrene substation, about seven miles north in Tempe.

Routes for the power lines or the exact locations for the new substations have not yet been determined. The utility says all alternatives will be considered for possible routes located west of the Price Road Corridor. In addition, the utility will discuss the project specifics with the Gila River Indian Community, located just west of the project corridor.

The utility has scheduled three open houses for April 16 and 17 as part of its siting study. The open houses will provide members of the public the opportunity to review informational material and ask questions of SRP representatives.

Following the meetings, SRP expects to narrow the route alternatives using the siting criteria developed through a siting study, including the public input, and the feasibility of construction and maintenance. Siting criteria to be considered will include the potential environmental effects of the route, as well as current and anticipated land uses.

At the conclusion of the siting study, SRP will present final route alternatives to the public during the summer. Following that, it will submit an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility (CEC) to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).

The application will be reviewed and hearings held by the state’s Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee. Hearings are expected to take place this winter, after which the committee will make a recommendation to the ACC.

The committee is an independent, 11-member body that evaluates applications to build power plants of 100 MW or more and transmission projects of 115-kV or higher. It decides whether to grant or deny a CEC for any project that comes before it, then submits its decisions to the ACC, which can confirm, deny or modify the committee’s decisions.

The ACC will make its final decision on whether to grant a CEC for the Price Road Corridor project at an open meeting expected to take place by spring 2014. If all goes according to schedule, the in-service date for the first component of the project is May 1, 2016.

The first phase of the project would improve SRP’s ability to keep pace with current and future electrical demands in the area and allow for much-needed economic growth. Subsequent phases will be needed to meet demand which, Novy noted, is expected to triple to over 1,200 MW in the corridor over the next 20 years.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving more than 950,000 customers in Maricopa and Pinal counties.