The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance have recently made available for review and public comment the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 65-mile, 230-kilovolt San Juan Basin Energy Connect Project to be constructed by Tri-State between northwest New Mexico and Ignacio, Colo.
The project also includes the expansion of Tri-State’s existing Iron Horse Substation, additions at The Western Area Power Administration’s Shiprock Substation and the construction of two new substations, Kiffen Canyon and Three Rivers, both in New Mexico.
The BLM will host two public meetings during the 45-day draft EIS public comment period on April 8 in Ignacio, Colo., and April 9 in Farmington, N.M.
The new line is needed to alleviate the strain that increasing electric load growth in the San Juan Basin areas of Colorado and New Mexico have caused on the region’s existing electrical system.
Among the project’s objectives are to improve electric system reliability, provide additional electric system capacity to support Tri-State member La Plata Electric Association’s (LPEA) requested capacity, as well as directly improving the load serving capability of the electric systems serving members LPEA, Empire Electric Association and San Miguel Power Association.
The proposed San Juan Basin Energy Connect Transmission Line would traverse a combination of BLM lands, New Mexico State lands, trust lands of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and private lands.
After the 45-day comment period, the BLM will address any substantial agency and public comments on the draft EIS and make revisions if necessary. After that, the BLM will issue a final EIS and Record of Decision for the project.
Tri-State staff expects that construction on the project will begin in late-2016. However, that schedule is dependent on how quickly the EIS process is completed, as well as the timetable for state and local permitting.