The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved APS’s request to construct the final section of a 500-kV line on BLM land that will complete an extra-high voltage transmission loop around the Valley and improve reliability for APS customers.
The Morgan to Sun Valley 500-kV transmission line extends 38 miles, starting at the Sun Valley substation near the Sun Valley Parkway north of Tonopah, and ending at the Morgan substation just south of State Route 74 near Lake Pleasant Regional Park. In addition to improving reliability for the fast-growing populace in the area, it also will increase economic development opportunities for the state.
“The Metro Phoenix population will be north of six million people by 2030,” said Jacob Tetlow, APS’s Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Operations. “A strong and reliable grid sets the stage for Arizona to attract new businesses and provide for continued growth. This is the culmination of years of hard work and partnership with the BLM, and our customers will be better served because of it. ”
The route for this line was selected after a seven-year public siting process that evaluated land availability and environmental, engineering, regulatory and cost impacts. Public outreach was an important part of the process, including informational open houses. These events provided opportunities for the public to ask questions and provide comments. In addition, APS worked with affected jurisdictions, communities and agencies, as well as business and civic leaders before the final route was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2015.
The route includes about seven miles of BLM-managed lands along State Route 74, and about two miles of BLM-managed lands near the Sun Valley Substation. Private and Arizona State Trust lands make up the remainder of the proposed route.
"This project is the result of almost four years’ worth of work and only possible through a great, working partnership with APS. BLM Arizona will continue to work with companies looking to expand Arizona's energy capabilities to better serve the needs of the public," said Raymond Suazo, BLM’s Arizona State Director.
The BLM completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in July 2013 and issued a decision approving the project in January 2014. Since then, APS and the BLM have worked to reduce visual impacts, ensure protection of wildlife habitat and salvage vegetation. BLM gave approval for constructing the final segment of the line in March.
The project is expected to be under construction until spring 2018 and to be in service in time to increase summer reliability for customers that same year.