Santa Fe County will participate as a “cooperating agency” in the federal government’s anticipated environmental review of a Texas company’s proposal to build a 33-mile power line between Alcalde in Rio Arriba County and a substation on Old Buckman Road near Santa Fe.
The 345-kilovolt transmission line, supported by towers of up to 110 feet high, would cross the Pojoaque Valley, worrying some residents about the impact on views. Hunt Power, the company proposing the line, says the project, with an estimated cost of up to $80 million, would add 600 megawatts of capacity to the electrical grid and provide a new means through which to transport renewable energy.
The company seeks roughly 12 miles of right-of-way from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The line would pass through public, private and tribal land, including 15 miles in Santa Fe County.
Santa Fe County commissioners on Tuesday approved a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with the BLM as it prepares an environmental impact statement for the so-called Verde Transmission Line.
In the role of a cooperating agency, the county will provide the BLM with “data, analysis, and expertise regarding Santa Fe County zoning and ordinances,” according to a memo presented to commissioners. The county also would review the environmental impact statement.
Robert Griego, the county’s planning manager, told commissioners there will be opportunity for members of the public to comment on the BLM’s draft environmental impact statement, which he said is scheduled for completion in a year.
Commissioner Ed Moreno said the federal environmental review represents “our opportunity to influence the way the process is going to work.”
“I’d rather be inside the room than outside the room, and I think this is a good opportunity for us to weigh in for our constituents,” Moreno said.
County Attorney Greg Shaffer said nothing prohibits commissioners from attending public meetings on the BLM’s environmental review.
Contact Justin Horwath at 505-986-3017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Robert Griego, county planning manager, told commissioners Hunt Power did not need to submit a development application for the power line. Griego actually said the county’s proposed memorandum of understanding with the BLM did not require such an application. Griego later said through a county spokeswoman that Hunt Power would be required to submit such an application to the county on portions of the line that cross private land where the county has jurisdiction.