Salt River Project (SRP) has postponed the filing of its application for a certificate of environmental compatibility (CEC) for the proposed 230-kV Price Road Corridor transmission project to give the utility more time to pursue an alternative route on land owned by the Gila River Indian Community.
“That process is really complex,” an SRP spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 11. “It is taking longer than we had hoped, and there are a number of parties who are very interested in that as a route alternative, so in order to continue to pursue that, we’re going to postpone our filing.”
Those parties include the Indian community, which could stand to gain financially if the new transmission line is sited on its property.
“The community recognizes that we could realize significant economic benefits with the construction of new electrical facilities in this area,” Gregory Mendoza, governor of the Gila River Indian Community, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with SRP to determine if this proposal aligns with our plans to develop the region and is in the best interest of the people in the community.”
The proposed route has already gained the support of the Gila River Indian Community District 4 Council and the Gila River Indian Community Utility Authority. However, members of the community to whom individual parcels of land have been allotted must also approve the project, as must the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The process to receive all of those necessary approvals requires additional time, the utility said.
SRP had originally anticipated filing its CEC application with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in November. Now, however, the utility says it could be as late as August 2014 before it is able to file the application. If it takes the full eight months to complete negotiations for the alternate route and file the application, the delay would also likely postpone the project’s in-service date from May 2016 to December 2016, the spokesperson said.
Such a delay would not affect the utility’s existing customers but could present a challenge to future growth along the Price Road Corridor, which is adjacent to Price Road and the Gila River Indian Community.
“We forecast growth in that industrial corridor, which is the reason for the project, and if there is a delay in the in-service date and there is a new, large industrial user, potentially there could be a challenge there depending on what their timing was and their load requirements,” the spokesperson said.
As proposed, the project will include a new single-circuit 230-kV power line along the southern portion of the corridor to connect SRP’s 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.
Once SRP submits its application to the ACC, the application will be reviewed and hearings held by the state’s Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee, 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 decision.
SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the United States, serving more than 950,000 customers in Maricopa and Pinal counties in Arizona.