The Bureau of Land Management signed a Record of Decision Nov. 22 authorizing the Ten West Link Transmission Line project. This project will build a power transmission line from Tonopah, Ariz. to Blythe, Calif. It has been identified as a priority under Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and would modernize energy infrastructure, strengthen grid reliability and improve efficiency for millions of customers in Arizona and California.
The decision is based on the Sept. 13, 2019 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and approved amendments to the BLM Yuma Field Office Resource Management Plan and California Desert Conservation Area Plan.
“By improving the reliability of the electrical grid in California and Arizona, the project would increase the ability of the grid to meet demand growth in the region and facilitate potential energy generation development in the region,” the BLM said in a press release.
Scoping for the project began March 2016 and the Draft EIS was released in August 2018. The 300-page Final EIS was developed in accordance withSecretary’s Order 3355 and analyzed several alternatives. The BLM’s selected alternative is a 125-mile-long route mostly located within existing utility corridors or parallel to existing infrastructure.
In October, Ali Amirali, a spokesman for the developers of the line, Starwood Energy Group, told the La Paz County Supervisors that the route of the line will avoid population centers, environmentally sensitive areas, and the Colorado River Indian Reservation.
When the project was first announced, La Paz County officials expressed opposition to the line. They said it could hurt tourism in the county, hurt the property tax base, and be an impediment to future development. They also said the county would receive no benefits from the project, such as greater access to affordable energy.
In response, the developers began working with the county to include them in the project. One of the decisions made was that the line be built in such a way that a proposed solar energy project in the eastern part of the county could be tied into it.
La Paz County has long sought to purchase BLM land in the eastern part of the county for a major solar energy development. Legislation allowing for the purchase of up to 6,000 acres of BLM land was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, and co-sponsored by members of Arizona’s Congressional delegation. The legislation was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March 2019.
The line is called the Ten West Link because it closely follows the route of Interstate 10. The estimated cost is $300 million.
The BLM’s Record of Decision, Final EIS and Proposed Plan amendments, and other project related documents are available on BLM’s ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/xU6Be.
Pioneer reporter John Gutekunst contributed to this story.