A 500-mile high voltage transmission corridor, from northern Lincoln County to southeastern Arizona, yet awaits approvals.
A comment window on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ended last August though a decision has not been advanced by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management.
In letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last month, some New Mexico officials said they believe the U.S. Department of Defense has been slowing down the process.
"It has come to our attention that the project could be delayed or abandoned completely because of eleventh hour comments from the military," wrote the chair of the Luna County Commission, R. Javier Diaz, and Deming Mayor Andres Silva. "It appears that the investors in the project are tiring of the military's ever-changing comments of acceptance to objection with no assurance of a final position."
A part of the BLM preferred route would be north and west of the White Sands Missile Range.
Grant County Commission Chair Brett Kasten said he attended a meeting a month ago concerning the EIS with the New Mexico director of BLM, Jesse Juen.
"During this meeting we discussed the three years of planning and multitude of routes studied at an approximate expense of $35 million to the developers," Kasten wrote in a separate letter to Salazar and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation. "It is apparent to many that the military continues to bring up new reasons why SunZia conflicts with military
activities, even after the Department of Defense issued a letter during May 2011 that suggested a route that was compatible with military missions, which ultimately the BLM selected as the preferred alternative."
The first application for the transmission lines was made to the BLM in September 2008.
SunZia had hoped to conclude all permitting efforts during the second quarter of 2013.
The slowdown flies in the face of a federal effort to fast track seven large-scale electric transmission lines in the country, including SunZia.
The Obama Administration announced on Oct. 6, 2011, that a Rapid Response Team for Transmission would accelerate the permitting and construction of the projects.
"This is the kind of critical infrastructure we should be working together to advance in order to create jobs and move our nation toward energy independence," Interior Secretary Salazar said at the time.
Transmission projects involve reviews by multiple federal, state and tribal agencies and are subject to an array of permitting procedures.
The SunZia Transmission Project is proposed to originate with a substation in the vicinity of Ancho, in northwestern Lincoln County.
Wind farms in parts of northern Lincoln County and adjacent Torrance County have been envisioned to feed the transmission line and help utilities meet their renewable energy requirements.
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