SRP unveils possible alternative route for 230-kV new power line in Arizona

Salt River Project (SRP) has unveiled a possible alternate route for the proposed 230-kV Price Road Corridor project that could move much of the project away from a heavily residential area of suburban Phoenix, Ariz.

According to the utility, the alternate route could take a large portion of the project, which is intended to improve reliability and serve large commercial and light industrial customers in the Phoenix suburbs of Tempe and Chandler in Arizona, onto Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) land west of Tempe and Chandler.

“We’ve worked out a route alternative for this project on GRIC land but it’s still a long way from it being a slam-dunk because it’s a very complicated process,” an SRP spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 4.

A map of the route released by SRP shows the route running along the eastern edge of the GRIC land, a short distance to the west of one of the current proposed alignments. The utility said the realignment would move the project farther away from a number of homes in the area.

“It’s … pretty residential-heavy in the area,” the spokesperson said. “The folks who are potentially impacted off of GRIC land are very interested in that alternative because it helps take the poles away from their properties.”

The possibility of poles of up to 154 feet high has drawn protests from residents of Chandler and Sun Lakes. The proposed alternate route would be on land owned by the community as well as parcels allotted to members of the community who must agree to the alignment before the project can move forward, the spokesperson said. In addition, the alignment must also be approved by the community council and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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.

The designation of the potential alternate route follows an initial series of six public open houses and other public meetings, after which SRP eliminated six of the eight east-west route segments originally considered to connect the Schrader substation and the proposed RS-28 substation. In addition, the utility eliminated another route segment north of Stellar Airpark in Chandler. Alignments along Chandler Boulevard and Loop 202 remain for the Knox-to-RS-27 segment of the project.

Adjacent to Price Road in south Tempe and southwest Chandler, the Price Road Corridor is home to 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 currently uses more than 400 MW in five square miles, an amount of electricity that would normally serve an area of approximately 25 square miles, the company said. The existing 69-kV system that serves the area is capable of handing about 580 MW, a level the utility expects to reach by May 1, 2016.

In addition, the Price Road Corridor has a significant amount of vacant land available, making the area ripe for future development. However, that development cannot take place unless the utility brings the new 230-kV facilities into that area, the utility has said previously.

At the conclusion of the siting study that is underway, SRP will submit an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility (CEC) to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The target date for submitting the application is Nov. 1, according to the project website.

The application will then 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.

Hearings are expected to take place this winter, after which the committee will make a recommendation to the ACC. 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 in May 2014, the spokesperson said. If all goes according to schedule, the in-service date for the first component of the project is May 1, 2016.

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.