Arizona staff recommend approval, subject to conditions, of proposed route realignment of SunZia project

Arizona Corporation Commission staff on Oct. 29 recommended that the commission amend a certificate of environmental compatibility (CEC), which was issued in February 2016 to SunZia Transmission, LLC for a 500-kV transmission project, in order to allow a route realignment requested by the company, subject to certain conditions.

Those conditions are that there are no other changes to the CEC as approved, and that the project utilize transmission structures as described in the original CEC application, maintaining the same corridor aside from the requested realignment.

As noted by staff, the commission in February 2016 issued a decision – Decision No. 75464 – granting SunZia a CEC, which approved the construction of two new 500-kV transmission lines and associated facilities, originating at a new substation – SunZia East – in Lincoln County, N.M., and terminating at the Pinal Central substation in Pinal County, Ariz.

On Oct. 22, SunZia filed an application requesting an amendment of Decision No. 75464 to authorize a route realignment near the San Manuel Airport. According to the company, staff added, the realignment is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prevent potential hazards in the San Manuel Airport navigable airspace. There are no other proposed changes to the CEC as approved, staff noted.

The information SunZia provided indicates that the proposed route realignment reduces the project profile by reducing the length of the original route, and eliminating two crossings of State Route 78, South Reddington Road. Staff added that according to the application, the route realignment approved by the FAA conforms to the CEC as approved and the applicable state land agencies do not oppose the route changes.

According to the company’s Oct. 22 application, the proposed route realignment is located in Pinal County near the airport, and that the purpose of the realignment is to move the route further away from the airport flight path, ensuring no potential hazards to air navigation.

The company also said that both the original alignment and the realignment are located entirely within Pinal County on Arizona State Trust Land managed by the Arizona State Land Department. The environmental effects associated with the realignment are similar to, or less than, the original alignment, the company added. The realignment crosses lands and resources that are equivalent to the approved corridor, but the realignment is about 0.6 miles shorter than the original route – 1.8 miles instead of 2.4 miles, the company said.

Staff said in its filing that it finds that the route modification does not affect the safe and reliable operation of the grid.

Staff also noted that comments on its recommendation may be filed with the commission’s Docket Control Center by Nov. 5, and that the matter may be scheduled for commission deliberation at its open meetings scheduled for Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.