SB1517 overwhelmingly defeated in the Arizona House

It is possible that the bill may come back to life, as did SB1547, but not this legislative session.
We are very glad for this time to breathe easy!

Here is an article from the Arizona Star reviewing what happened.

In the House, the voice vote was indecisive so it went to a stand-up vote.  This was 31 against and 10 for.  It then went to a roll-call vote which was 40 against and 14 for with 6 no-votes.

Thanks to all representatives who voted NO on this important issue.
How did your representative vote?

Eddie Ableser NV Lela Alston N Ben Arredondo N
Cecil P. Ash N Brenda Barton Y Kate Brophy McGee Y
Judy Burges N Chad Campbell N Heather Carter Y
Tom Chabin N Steve Court Y Chester Crandell N
Jeff Dial Y Karen Fann N Steve Farley N
Eddie Farnsworth N John Fillmore N Tom Forese N
Ruben Gallego N Sally Ann Gonzales N Doris Goodale N
David M. Gowan Sr. N Rick Gray N Albert Hale N
Jack W. Harper Y Matt Heinz N Katie Hobbs N
Russ Jones N Peggy Judd N John Kavanagh N
Debbie Lesko Y Debbie McCune Davis N Nancy McLain N
Javan "J.D." Mesnard N Eric Meyer N Catherine H. Miranda N
Richard Miranda NV Steve B. Montenegro NV Justin Olson Y
Lynne Pancrazi N Daniel Patterson N Frank Pratt Y
Terri Proud Y Amanda A. Reeve Y Bob Robson N
Macario Saldate IV N Carl Seel N David Burnell Smith N
David W. Stevens N Andy Tobin Y Anna Tovar N
Michelle Ugenti NV Steve Urie Y Ted Vogt N
Jim Weiers NV Jerry Weiers N Bruce Wheeler NV
Vic Williams N Kimberly Yee N Kirk D. Adams Y

Arizona Senate Bill 1517:
designed to allow SunZia to avoid being reviewed by the Line Siting Committee as required by A.R.S. 40-360.  

Summary of issues:

  • Here is the current version of the bill on the Arizona Legislature website.

  • VIDEO: Click here (or if that doesnt work try here) to view the Arizona House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on SB1517, March 21, 2011. [NOTE: SB1517 starts at about 8:50.] CWG Co-chair, Chet Phillips, testifies before the Committee starting at 59:50

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
--Arizona Corporation Commissioner, Paul Newman, on the Line Siting Committee Process
  • SB1517 has been brought to us by SunZia which appears to be concerned that it is not up to the standard of all previous transmission projects which have passed through Arizona and will not meet the scrutiny of Arizona's well-functioning Line Siting process.

  • Desperate attempts to amend SB1517 into something reasonable only serve to bring out how well the current system works and how unnecessary the bill is.

Write House Rep Peggy Judd

House Representative Peggy Judd has asked for as many people as possible to send her two or three sentence emails about why we oppose SB 1517. Please help us by emailing Rep. Judd at Here are some ideas for what to say:
  • This bill could cut local people and local communities out of the picture. We want our voices heard.
  • This bill threatens rural property rights.
  • We want the state of Arizona's full review of big power projects protected.
  • We don't trust the federal government to do a good enough job of representing our concerns.
  • We need a democratic, transparent process here, not one that favors big money lobbyists and backroom deals.

Remember, keep your emails short and sweet, but send them. This one is about protecting our right to have our say.
SunZia has hired a powerful lobbying firm, Copper State Consulting, to push through SB 1517, which would threaten Arizonan's power to be heard in local hearings on interstate power projects that would pass through our communities. If this bill passes, by the time you learn of a major interstate transmission project coming through your community, it may be too late. We can't let this happen.

SunZia claims that SB1517 eliminates duplication of effort between the federal NEPA process (in this case, handled by the BLM) and the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee process, and is sold as a form of deregulation to help create jobs.

...the 'duplication of effort' idea is absolutely not true! Read this:

The EIS Process vs the Line Siting Process
by Marshall Magruder

The Line Siting Committee will use the EIS (draft or final) as an input into its total environmental review concerning state and private lands. RODs will also be considered. This greatly facilitates the Line Siting process but does NOT act as a substitute. These are different with different objectives, one for federal impact and one for state/private land impacts.

If ONLY federal land was involved, then only the EIS would be necessary; but this will not be the case for any transmission line or power plant project unless totally within federal land (highly unlikely; however, a Department of Defense installation may have its own power plant and transmission line).

Since transmission lines will impact private and state lands, as with almost all other cases, then the proscribed A.R.S. 40-360 process needs to be followed. The total environmental review of these impacts must be decided by the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee and, if approved, then granted in an Certification of Environmental Compatibility (CEC). The CEC is then reviewed by state-wide elected Arizona Corporation Commissioners and then implemented. This becomes the permit to construct the power plant or transmission line in our state. During the Committee process, counties, cities and towns are invited to participate along with other intervenors. The 180-day Committee process is rather rapid and comprehensive. The Committee meets its schedules and has the abilities to understand an EIS and RODs, evaluate the testimonies from the parties and make a decision that reflects the people of Arizona. The Committee always balances the project's value versus the project's impacts when it grants a CEC. Public inputs are usually received by this Committee and can be handled expeditiously, primarily due to the 180-day schedule. The Committee Chairman is a former Judge and well experienced in this process.

Some states, but not Arizona, incorporate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its associated environmental reviews, such as the EIS, into its state-wide siting process. For example, California has an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) process that coordinates city, county, state and federal environmental reviews into one report. A California EIR is a report for all decision makers, from these governmental entities and the public, that describes the project, its impacts, and the proscribed and an agreed mitigation plan (similar to terms and conditions) that will be implemented when the "permit" is granted.

In Arizona, we have two parallel processes, the NEPA-driven process for federal lands and the CEC process for state and private lands. In general, the EIS should be completed prior to starting the Line Siting Committee process because it will provide valuable environmental information that will be relevant to the drafting of the CEC. Depending upon the completion and any local governmental entity participation in the NEPA process (rarely done in Arizona), then the first real look, from Arizona state, county, city and citizens of the environmental impacts will commence with the Line Siting Committee's review. These Arizona inputs are vital for community acceptance of the project. In some states, such as New Mexico, different local processes are involved that are the rights for that state, as ours differ. Upon completion of the Line Siting Committee's work, the CEC will, unless denied, grant the applicant the permit to construct the project under certain terms and conditions. These conditions include impacts based on diverse Arizona state agencies, including Game and Fish, Arizona State Historical Project Office (SHPO), State Land Trust, ADWR, ADEQ, counties, cities and towns, and public inputs. The CEC will tie all the concerns by those impacted into a permit with specified terms and conditions to resolve known conflicts that arise during these hearings.

The present process does not need this "one time" exception and sets a precedent that will cause much troubles in the future based on strong lobbying efforts in Phoenix, a locale not impacted by this project.

You may also want to read the letter from CWG board member, Mick Meader, describing in detail the way federal regulatory agencies and Arizona regulatory agencies work together to oversee large transmission projects like SunZia, and how they do NOT duplicate each other.
[Note: This letter was written to some leaders in The Nature Conservancy, who initially supported this bill based on what CWG believes to be a misunderstanding (or incomplete understanding) of its true intent and ramifications. A controversial and outspoken employee at TNC (who we have learned has worked closely with Stan Barnes, SunZia's lobbyist) continues to support the bill and has misrepresented the organization as a whole, in our opinion.]


  • CWG board member, Mick Meader's excellent letter to ACC Chair, Gary Pierce

  • !!!System's Engineer Marshall Magruder's powerful letter to the House Rules Committee.

  • For a bit more, here is Marshall Magruder's letter to Rep. Judd

  • Keep Arizona's Voice in Line Siting - Arizona Sierra Club article, including ideas for writing your legislator

Press Release from ACC Commissioner Paul Newman's Office


CONTACT: Nancy LaPlaca (480) 352-9604, Policy Advisor to Commissioner Newman

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman Asks Legislature to Reconsider SB 1517, Bill to Reorganize Line Siting Committee

" If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman, commenting on SB 1517, which changes the process followed by Arizona's Line Siting Committee.

" Arizona's current process for transmission line siting is actually less than the U.S. average, " said Newman. "The Commission and Line Siting Committee want the fastest possible process while still honoring a community's right to be involved in power lines that go through neighborhoods and scenic areas. I don't understand what it is that SB 1517 seeks to 'fix,' but as far as I'm concerned, this is not needed and will only create more work for Commission staff."

" Renewable energy developers are looking for stability and certainty - not changing the rules in the middle of the game," added Newman.

Letter to ACC Commissioners from Marshall Magruder


It is my understanding that a vote will be taken this week on SB 1517 to have the Sun-Zia Transmission Line project avoid being reviewed by the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee as required by A.R.S. 40-360.

This bill violates the basic tenets of the Siting Committee because only a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is to be considered for this project. The "approval" of an EIS is a Record of Decision by a federal decision maker, not a state representative. A transmission line in Arizona can only be sited with a Siting Committee-approved and Commission-reviewed Certification of Environmental Compatibility (CEC).

The EIS pertains only to environmental impacts to "federal land" and does NOT pertain to the additional environmental impacts to state and private land. This difference is significant. The federal government can not site transmission lines, except under limited circumstances in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that do not pertain here. Siting, as acknowledged by the EPAct of 2005, the Department of Energy, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is always a state's responsibility.

These two complementary federal and Arizona environmental review processes work together when both federal and state/private lands are impacted. Both environmental reviews are essential to satisfy the public, the applicants, and the Commission.

It is urged that the Commission actively oppose this measure in the strongest way. This usurpation of your authority sets a precedent with unintended consequences impacting the people of Arizona who elected you to represent them in these matters.

Marshall Magruder Tubac, Arizona 85646

Letter to Arizona House from Elizabeth Webb

March 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker and Arizona Representatives,

I write today in regard to the proposed SB 1517 which appears to be, on the surface, legislation intended to "fast track" the interstate Sunzia Transmission line project. Approval of this legislation could have serious, irrevocable consequences for the state of Arizona.
I am a resident, taxpayer and long time registered voter in Pima County within Arizona Legislative District 30. I have been an intervener in propria persona before the Arizona Power Plant and Line Siting Committee more than once, particularly concerned with appropriate public voice. I remain energized about transmission siting issues in rural Arizona, and recently attended the Sonoran Institute's "Collaborating to Build Arizona's Clean Energy Future: Understanding Your Part in Transmission and Renewable Energy Development" conference in Phoenix.

I can appreciate the desire to avoid duplication in siting transmission lines in and through our state. Furthermore, I strongly believe a discussion about incorporating certain aspects of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to enhance the series of factors to be considered in Section 40-360.06 is relevant. However; the AZ Power Plant and Line Siting Committee (Committee) process and the NEPA process are fundamentally different.

These two complementary federal and Arizona environmental review processes work together when both federal and state/private/tribal lands are impacted. Both environmental reviews are essential to satisfy the public, the applicants, and the Commission.
SB 1517 is unnecessary and duplicative of 40-360.06. Factors to be considered in issuing a certificate of environmental compatibility "requires factors which require consideration under applicable federal laws pertaining to the site" be considered in the decision to issue a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC). 

Some specific concerns regarding SB1517 are:
1. The filing fees prescribed are not commensurate with compensation allowed to Committee members as allowed under 40-360.01. These fees should be updated if this legislation is to be approved.

§ 40-360.01. Organization and membership of the committee

E. Committee members appointed by the commission are eligible to receive compensation of two hundred dollars for each meeting attended, prorated for partial days for each meeting attended, payable from the filing fee required by § 40-360.09. Committee members employed by government entities are not eligible to receive compensation for their service.

2.  This legislation appears to be for a specific project on behalf of Sunzia lobbyists. What ramifications will this have on other cases in the futures? Does this legislation allow the hijacking Arizona by special interest groups while subjugating Arizona's role to the Federal Government?

3. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) does not prescribe mitigation, the Record of Decision (ROD) does.
"May the summary section in the final Environmental Impact Statement substitute for or constitute an agency's Record of Decision?

A. No. An environmental impact statement is supposed to inform the decisionmaker before the decision is made.
4. The NEPA process only prescribes mitigation for Federal lands associated with a proposed project, not the state and private lands.

5. As a taxpayer, this legislation is of great concern due to the high potential for litigation against the Arizona Corporation Commission.

6. This legislation itself has potential to be duplicative by allowing the Commission to spend up to 90 days to determine if the project should go to the Committee.

7. This legislation has the potential to remove appropriate public input by allowing the Commission to make a decision without adequate public hearings and without involving all stakeholders who could be potentially impacted. It is not responsible to assume appropriate public input was received or considered at the Federal level regarding Federal, Tribal, State and private lands.

8. The mandatory issuance of a Certificate for a minimum of fifteen years is not commensurate with multiple recent Committee decisions and Commission approval. There are issues related to long- term, out dated CECs and impacts to residents who have not had adequate disclosure about projects.

9. I must restate as a taxpayer that the high potential for litigation involving this proposed bill is of grave concern.

Thank you for your consideration. In the best interest of Arizona, I urge you to advocate against this legislation and vote to deny it.

Thank you,
Elizabeth Webb
Vail,Arizona 85641

Contact your state representatives and let them know how you feel! :
  • To find your Arizona District using a map, click here.
  • Here are links to find your Arizona State Representatives and Senators by district.
  • District 25:
    (which includes most of Cochise County except Sierra Vista, southern Santa Cruz County and western Pima County)

    • Representatives:
      Peggy Judd phone 602-926-5836 fax 602-417-3125
      David Stevens phone 602-926-4321 fax 602-417-3146
    • Senator:
      Gail Griffin phone 602-926-5895 fax 602-417-3025