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Bureau of Land Management Approves SunZia Southwest Transmission Project

May 24, 2023
Biden-Harris administration’s record of decision supports delivery of 4,500 MW of renewable energy from New Mexico to Arizona and California.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, which will transport up to 4,500 MW of renewable energy from New Mexico to Arizona and California. The decision reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to expedite transmission infrastructure, lower energy costs, prevent power outages, create union jobs, and achieve a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035.

The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project consists of two 500 kV transmission lines spanning nearly 520 miles across federal, state, and private lands. It connects central New Mexico to central Arizona, passing through multiple counties in each state. The approved route starts at a planned substation in Torrance County, New Mexico, and culminates at the existing Pinal Central Substation in Pinal County, Arizona. The project extends across multiple counties in both New Mexico (Lincoln, Socorro, Sierra, Luna, Grant, Hidalgo, Valencia, and Torrance) and Arizona (Graham, Greenlee, Cochise, Pinal, and Pima).

The BLM successfully completed the review period for the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, from the Notice of Intent to the Record of Decision, in under two years. This is a significant step toward groundbreaking for the project.

Since 2021, the BLM has granted approval for 35 projects, comprising 10 solar, eight geothermal, and 17 generation tie-in (gen-ties) projects, covering approximately 23,396 acres of BLM-managed lands. These initiatives are projected to generate a total of 8,160 MW of electricity, sufficient to power over 2.6 million households.

Currently, the BLM is processing 74 utility-scale clean energy projects and reviewing over 150 applications for solar and wind development. These projects have the potential to add over 37,000 MW of renewable energy to the western grid.

The BLM's role in permitting renewable energy on public lands supports the administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and Congress’ directive to permit 25 GW of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands by 2025.

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