TEP Corporate Communications Specialist Joe Salkowski informed the Weekly there are four possible routes for the line--called Western, Crossover, Central and Eastern--all outlined on TEP's Web site www.tucsonelectric.com. (Click on TEP--Citizens Transmission Line.) Since the location of the line has not been determined, Salkowski expressed reservations about Quinn's claim that the line may affect the area. He also indicated extensive studies were conducted to determine the environmental impact of the line.
According to TEP, the goal of the new line--running from the South Substation in Sahuarita to a new substation site near Nogales--is to improve service to the area served by Citizens Communications in Southern Arizona. The Arizona Corporation Commission has mandated that Citizens Communications improve service in the Nogales area and the TEP says it is seeking to improve transmission in Southern Arizona and wants to assist Citizens Communications in meeting the mandate.
TEP reports that to date, the Arizona Corporation Commission has issued a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility, allowing them to build the line on the Western route. Approvals from the Department of Energy, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the International Boundary and Water Commission are also needed before construction begins.
The Department of Energy and its environmental consulting firm, Tetra Tech Inc. of Virginia, are working on an environmental impact statement for the project. According to Salkowski, a draft of the report is targeted for public release in early summer. Also included in the report will be a biological assessment of the plan plus studies on the impact on animals and vegetation in the area.
Tetra Tech maintains a project Web site at www.ttclients.com/tep.