SunZia seeks approval to replace original application concerning 500-kV project

SunZia Transmission, LLC, in a motion added to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s website on June 19, requested that a hearing examiner issue an order authorizing the company to amend and replace its original application with an amended application regarding its proposed 500-kV transmission project.

As TransmissionHub reported, SunZia in an application received by the commission on March 12, said that it seeks an order that approves the location of two 500-kV transmission lines and related facilities in certain areas of Lincoln, Socorro, Sierra, Luna, Grant, Torrance, and Hidalgo counties.

The application also sought that the order determines that a total right of way (ROW) width of about 400 feet – i.e., 200 feet for each transmission line – which may require a width of up to 1,000 feet in a few locations, is necessary for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project.

Under the application, SunZia added, SunZia proposes to build and operate the two 500-kV alternating current (AC) lines, as well as the associated facilities, in areas of New Mexico and Arizona. The lines would extend about 520 miles, including 320 miles in New Mexico and 200 miles in Arizona, SunZia said, noting that in New Mexico, the lines would cross about 134 miles of federal land, 96 miles of New Mexico State Land Office lands, and 90 miles of private lands.

The lines would originate at a new substation in Lincoln County, N.M., (SunZia East substation), and terminate at the existing Pinal Central substation in Pinal County, Ariz., the company said. The lines would be located in portions of Torrance, Socorro, Sierra, Luna, Grant, and Hidalgo counties in New Mexico, as well as Cochise, Greenlee, Graham, Pima, and Pinal counties in Arizona. SunZia added that the new substation facilities would be built in Luna and Hidalgo counties.

The lines would have a total transfer capacity of 3,000 MW, which would include a substantial amount of energy generated by renewable resources, particularly high capacity factor wind energy resources in Lincoln, Torrance, and Guadalupe counties.

SunZia added that it also has the option of either initially building or later converting one of the 500-kV AC transmission lines to direct current (DC) operation. Implementing a DC electrical configuration would likely increase the project’s total power transfer capacity from 3,000 MW to about 4,500 MW, SunZia said, noting that it would decide whether to utilize a DC electrical configuration based on the level of market demand for additional transmission capacity and service.

The total estimated capital cost of the SunZia project configured as two 500-kV AC transmission lines and related facilities in Arizona and New Mexico would be about $2bn, SunZia said, noting that the estimated capital cost for the New Mexico portion of the project would be about $1.2bn.

SunZia also noted that it expects to begin construction of the first 500-kV AC transmission line and related facilities this year, and to place the facility in commercial operation during 4Q20.

In its June filing, SunZia said that its pre-filed testimony, discovery responses, and testimony during cross-examination reflect that for each transmission line and related facilities, only a 200 foot ROW is required. The company noted that its pre-filed testimony and testimony during cross-examination reflect that the request for up to 1,000 feet in the original application was limited to adjusting the alignment of the 200 foot ROWs for each of the transmission lines during micro-siting in very discrete areas and only in certain exceptional circumstances.

“SunZia is requesting leave to amend and replace its original application with the amended application attached hereto as Exhibit A to clarify that it is only seeking an order from the commission approving a total of 400 feet of [ROWs], i.e., two 200 foot [ROWs] for each transmission line, and is not seeking approval of a 1,000 foot” ROW, the company said.

The amended application does not “broaden the scope of the issues,” as it is only removing references to 1,000 feet and clarifying that SunZia is seeking approval of 200 feet ROWs for each of the two transmission lines, the company said.

The parties and process will suffer no prejudice as the amended application makes only minor changes and withdraws a request for relief, SunZia said.

Among other things, the company said that the process would not be delayed, as one of SunZia’s requests for relief would be withdrawn, thereby simplifying the process and issues being considered. No additional evidence or cross-examination is required, as no new requests for relief or issues are being presented, SunZia said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.