BLM issues notice to prepare EIS for Ten West Link project

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking comments through May 9, and holding meetings in Arizona and California as part of the scoping process for the Ten West Link project being developed by Abengoa Transmission & Infrastructure (ATI) and Starwood Energy Group Global (Starwood), the federal agency noted recently.

The Ten West Link project, previously known as the Delaney to Colorado River project, is a proposed 500-kV transmission line to connect the Delaney substation in Tonopah, Ariz., which is under construction by Arizona Public Service, to the existing Colorado River substation in Blythe, Calif., which is owned by Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison.

The planned 114-mile route has 97 miles in Arizona and 17 miles in California, largely following an existing transmission line – the Devers to Palo Verde 500-kV line – in an established utility corridor, BLM said in its March 23 notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact state (EIS).

The Arizona portion is in Maricopa and La Paz counties, and about 83 miles of the planned route is on public lands managed by BLM, the agency said.

The notice begins the public scoping period to identify relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including potential alternatives, BLM said in the notice. The scoping period, during which the public has the opportunity to identify issues that should be considered in the EIS, ends on May 9, BLM said in a March 23 press release.

The agency said it will hold public meetings for interested parties to learn about the project and to offer insight on any issues that should be considered in the EIS. Those meetings are scheduled for the evenings of April 12 in Tonopah, April 13 in Quartzsite, Ariz., and April 14 in Blythe.

“At present, the BLM has identified the following preliminary issues: Visual resource management classifications that would not allow a 500-kV transmission line, possible route changes outside the designated corridors, potential interference with the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground; cultural resources; Native American cultural concerns; social and economic effects; potential public health and safety; wildlife (including migratory birds); special status species; and recreation,” BLM said in the notice.

The joint venture of ATI and Starwood was chosen last July by the California ISO (Cal-ISO) to build the project through a competitive bidding process. DCR Transmission LLC, as the joint venture was known at the time, was chosen over others based on cost-containment measures, among other factors, the Cal-ISO said at the time. The cost of the project was estimated by the Cal-ISO to be $300m.

The joint venture proposed an in-service date of March 25, 2020, which was about two months ahead of the latest in-service date specified by the Cal-ISO.

In a Jan. 8 presentation to the California Public Utilities Commission, Ten West Link said it is planning on the federal and state permitting processes to be completed by the end of 2017, with a two-year construction timeline allowing an in-service date in May 2020.

The developers of the project, with ATI holding a 25% interest in the joint venture and Starwood holding a 75% interest, received incentive rate treatment from FERC in a Dec. 17, 2015, order.

As TransmissionHub reported, ATI, which is a subsidiary of Abengoa S.A., is a stand-alone company that is independent from other Abengoa businesses that suspended operations in late 2015 amid financial concerns at the parent company. Abengoa operates hundreds of subsidiaries around the world and each one is autonomous, so while some subsidiaries were suspending operations in late 2015, those activities had no bearing on the Ten West Link joint venture, a source familiar with the project said at that time.