Cascabel Working Group
A grassroots organization concerned with the cultural and ecological integrity of the lower/middle San Pedro Valley

January 2018

December 2017

  • FAA to evaluate proposed SunZia standards violations near San Manuel airport.
    See their aeronautical study, which is open to public comments.

November 2017

Update on the Lawsuit Against the Arizona Corporation Commission

(Background press release is here)

May 2017

April 2017

  • CWG is composing our comment on SunZia's Plan of Development

    On November 14, 2015, the Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee of the Arizona Corporation Commission recommended that SunZia be granted a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility. Line Siting Committee Recommendation

    After many weeks of testimony and deliberations, this document carries 37 Conditions. Once the Corporation Commissioners voted 3 to 2 to grant the CEC, Condition 29 went into effect: SunZia is to invite comment from Participating Stakeholders on the Plan of Development.

    We are currently developing our comment which will be published on this website after May 4th. Notably, 7 of the 13 pages of the Commissioners' decision is Chairman Little's dissent (starting p.7). He details reasons why the CEC should not have been granted. We agree.

November 2016

April 2016

March 2016

  • From the Arizona Daily Star, Conflict of Interest Taints power-line plan, critics say

    This article questions the integrity of the role played by EPG (Environmental Planning Group) which prepared SunZia's environment impact statement for the BLM.

    One thing that author, Tony Davis, neglected to mention is that EPG has worked closely with Tom Wray and the SouthWestern Power Group (SWPG) since EPG's founding, collaborating with Wray to obtain the permits for his proposed Toltec and Bowie Power Stations, and that Garlyn Bergdale, until recently the President and CEO of EPG, was a member of SWPG in its early days. Tom Wray and SWPG are the principal proponents of SunZia.

February 2016

January 2016

  • SunZia's Last Regulatory Hurdle - after 1pm, Feb 2nd, possibly also 3rd
    see the Facebook Event Page

    The Arizona Corporation Commission will be meeting on Tuesday, February 2 (and 3rd?) to consider granting a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility to the SunZia Transmission Project. This would be the last regulatory hurdle for this ill-conceived, green-washed, mega-transmission line that would open a massive new utility corridor through 30 miles of the San Pedro River.

    There is precedent for the Commission denying a Certificate for such a project. It happened when the public packed the house at their meeting. Please help us do that again for SunZia! The meeting starts sometime after 1pm, February 2, maybe extending to February 3 [SunZia is the last item on the Feb 2 schedule shown here]. Consider keeping your schedule open in order to attend this important meeting at ACC offices, 1200 West Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

    • From the Sierra Club (Canyon Echoes)

      Help protect wild lands and wildlife by saying NO to the SunZia Transmission Project!
      Grand Canyon Chapter
      "I think this is a perfect example of the effort to find the least worst decision.... The jewel, the San Pedro River Valley, is pristine.... And my heart just breaks that, you know, there’s going to be a transmission line through there." ~Thomas Chenal, Arizona Power and Line Siting Committee

      The rich riparian habitat of the San Pedro River Valley is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife and cultural resources. This area has been the focus of numerous conservation efforts for many decades, all focused on preserving and restoring this truly vital landscape.

      Unfortunately, a proposed transmission project threatens the San Pedro and its unique resources. The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project would march from New Mexico across southern Arizona, straight through the San Pedro Valley. This project would create one of the largest new utility corridors in the western U.S. and could cause irreparable harm to the land and its resources.

      SunZia only has one more step in the process before it can move forward with this damaging line.

      The Arizona Corporation Commission will be considering this issue on February 2 at 10:00 a.m. at the Arizona Corporation Commission office, located at 1200 W. Washington St. in Phoenix (map). Please attend if you can!

      If you cannot attend in person, please send a message to the Commissioners immediately (no later than February 1!).

      Please join us in opposing SunZia! We need to make sure that the Arizona Corporation Commission knows that the people of Arizona do not support this project. We will hand-deliver your message to ensure that it's entered into the docket.

      For more information, contact Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or

      Donate now!Please Support Our Work!

      Please consider donating today to support our conservation efforts. Your dollars stay here in Arizona to support our work to protect Arizona's wild lands, wildlife, people, and places. Thank you so much for your support!

    Meanwhile, people can write directly to the Commissioners about the project. The docket number to reference is L-00000YY-15-0318-00171. Email addresses are as follows:

    • Bob Burns
    • Tom Forese
    • Doug Little, Acting Chairman,
    • Bob Stump
    • Andy Tobin

    The mailing address for all commissioners is as follows:
    Arizona Corporation Commission
    Commissioners Wing
    1200 W. Washington - 2nd Floor
    Phoenix, Arizona 85007

  • Critics: Power lines imperil Lower San Pedro

October 2015

  • Please consider and download our SunZia talking points for discussion with the Arizona Corporation Commission

September 2015

  • -->Let Your Voice Be Heard
    Finally, SunZia is moving to the Arizona Corporation Commission for their Certificate of Environmental Compatibility, the state permit needed to construct the project. Let your voice be heard !*

    You must include the docket number, L-00000YY-15-0318-00171 (yes, that whole thing).

    *We've learned that web submission of comments is restricted to 1000 characters (not words!). Although better than nothing, it is preferable to submit your comments in writing (click here for details)

  • The Line Siting Committee hearing for the permit will be as follows. We'll be there!

    Willcox, October 19-21, Community Center
    Tucson, October 22-23, November 2-3, Tucson Convention Center
    Casa Grande, November 4-5, Holiday Inn
    Florence (if needed), November 16-20, Holiday Inn

    Details are available here, including all comment options, evening public comment periods, tour info, and how to access SunZia's application online. Anyone can attend the hearing and provide public comment, either at an evening session or at the beginning of each hearing day (except tour days).

  • The latest news from New Mexico: "SunZia Project still a Concern,"

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

BLM Releases its Record of Decision (ROD) on the SunZia project, January 23rd―――――――――――――――

Other January News---
December 2014

November 2014
  • BLM releases the Environmental Impact Statement for the burial of SunZia's proposed lines across the northern part of the White Sands Missile Range

August 2014
"It must be built as a public works project if it is to be built. A private company will go bankrupt trying."     -Cascabel Working Group's co-chair, Mick Meader

from the Sante Fe New Mexican article Heinrich: Deal with feds paves way for SunZia transmission line

July 2014
  • SunZia unlikely to approved until early next year, if then:
    "...BLM would conduct a more in-depth supplement to the final environmental impact statement (EIS) that it released for the New Mexico-to-Arizona SunZia project in June 2013. A supplement to the final EIS could take as long as two years to complete, said Donna Hummel, a BLM spokeswoman in Santa Fe, N.M.

    Until the issue is resolved, a formal record of decision authorizing the project will not be issued, said Dave Goodman, planning and environmental coordinator in BLM's New Mexico State Office.

    A final EA that determines the next step for the transmission project that the Obama administration says is critical to developing wind and solar power in both states likely won't be completed until early next year, Goodman said.".
         -from's Greenwire [subscription required]

June 2014

April 2014 March 2014 February 2014
FOIA Time!

January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013

February 2013

  • SunZia: An Unnecessary High-Risk Project?
    A response to the report "Evaluating the SunZia Transmission Line Proposal A Guide for Stakeholders and Decision Makers "

    Some highlights:

    • The SouthWestern Power Group (SWPG) initially proposed SunZia to expand the markets for its permitted 1,000-megawatt power plant in S.E. Arizona, hoping to make it more economic, and SWPG yet intends to use SunZia for this purpose. The later expansion of SunZia did not diminish this need.

    • While New Mexico wind generation might help SunZia succeed, it alone cannot support a project of this scope. For the project to have any chance of success, natural gas generation must play a central role in it. Even combined, both forms of generation may be unable to support the project. This uncertainty makes the project’s economic outcome questionable.

    • When SunZia was conceived, it was thought that New Mexico’s renewable energy might help other states in the Southwest meet their renewable energy goals. However all states targeted for New Mexico’s renewable energy projects are now expected to meet and exceed their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements with their own resources, and SunZia is not needed to meet them. This is especially true for California. This makes long-distance transmission of renewables unnecessary, meaning that New Mexico’s solar and wind energy is far more likely to stay in New Mexico.

    • This analysis indicates that the methodology and economic analysis of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for SunZia is deeply flawed. The justification used in the draft EIS for SunZia is so incomplete that legal challenges may delay or stop the project. This possibility raises further questions about project’s viability.

    CWG's Mick Meader: "This is a highly tenuous and economically risky project, ...As proposed, it cannot be financed. The size of the project far exceeds the power needs in the region, and building a project merely to satisfy energy speculators does not make sense."

    Additional Conclusions of the Report:

    • Natural gas generation could easily come to dominate the project’s use, as SunZia would parallel the El Paso Natural Gas pipeline in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona for nearly 200 miles. In the last 11 years 1,045 megawatts of generation have been built along this pipeline and another 1,000 megawatts permitted. Given the enormous future projections for natural gas generation in the Southwest and the ease with which this existing generation can be expanded, the majority of the power eventually carried by SunZia could easily be natural gas generated.

    • The completion of the 570-megawatt Luna Energy Facility in Deming, New Mexico in 2006 eliminated any physical congestion on the transmission system in southwestern New Mexico, and SunZia is not now needed to increase power delivery in this region.

    • Building SunZia cannot be justified merely because New Mexico has abundant, high-quality renewable resources. All other western states, including Arizona, California, and Nevada, that might use New Mexico’s renewable energy have been developing their own capacity too quickly for New Mexico to gain control of the renewable transmission market and ensure sale of the state’s power.

  • Some local fun on a familiar topic:
    Highly Recommended --> just for fun

January 2013

  • CWG's Mick Meader has met in person with John Shepard, senior advisor for the Sonoran Institute, who is the principal author of their report released in November [see Dec 2012 news section].

    This report is misleading and damages efforts to show how this project may actually be used. It reinforces the BLM's and SunZia's mischaracterizations of the project as carrying mostly renewable energy rather than shows where they are wrong. The Sonoran Institute report was a huge undertaking requiring more than two month's of effort. It was backed by the full resources of the Sonoran Institute and given wide publicity with policy makers and the media.

December 2012

  • The Sonoran Institute has released a troubling and disappointing report on the SunZia project. We believe it fails to consider vital information and has thereby come to misleading conclusions.

    Click here to go to their website and then click the 'Read the Report" link.

    It is also troubling that no one in the environmental community was informed about the report's existence, until it was sprung on us in a surprising press release.

  • A BLM presentation to the Tohono O'odham Nation on December 6th contained untrue and misleading statements about who is in support of their preferred alternative proposed SunZia route (over the Western San Pedro). The Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service are not "in concurrence" with the preferred route, and the Nature Conservancy has been very clear with CWG that they oppose all proposed routes.

    And yet here is a slide shown by the BLM, which says the opposite:

    CWG contacted the BLM and received a retraction and apology. But we wonder how influential these presentations have been, how many have seen this misleading information, and how it will affect the final Record of Decision. Why would the BLM present information in favor of a particular route?

    For a full critique of the entire presentation, click here

November 2012

  • The San Pedro River: Arizona River of the Month!, selected by the Environmental Defense Fund and four other organizations. This article, along with their river profile give a nice overview of some of the irreplaceable aspects of the San Pedro.

October 2012

  • SunZia Transmission Project Update - just published in Tucson Audubon's Vermillion Flycatcher, by CWG's Mick Meader and Peter Else

  • Tucson Weekly: Volts and Revolt - includes an interview with CWG's Mick Meader

  • APS's Solana 280 Megawatt solar generation station. This represents Arizona's real energy future, not long-distance transmission from New Mexico--esp alleged wind power
    APS was originally going after Wyoming wind power with the Transwest Express Project, which they proposed. When APS figured in the costs of back-up generation needed to stabilize power flow for Wyoming wind during peak load (July and August, mid-afternoon), they found that investing in wind energy would cost them twice as much per unit of power as solar, so they abandoned the Transwest Express Project, selling out to Anschutz, and put all of their money into solar. Smart move. By their calculations, Arizona solar is currently economic with coal and nuclear power. Only natural gas beats it, and then not by much. This is what makes me think that New Mexico wind power may not make it for Arizona and California.

                                                                                                                            --opinion from CWG's Mick Meader
  • Here is an interesting article on the politics of the Arizona Corporation Commission, explaining how we must be vigilant in preventing special 'energy' interests from taking over and making our energy decisions for us

  • Here are some governmental bodies whose DEIS comments were orchestrated by SunZia (and generally endorse the Aravaipa Canyon route desired by SunZia):
    • Cochise County Board of Supervisors
    • Graham County Board of Supervisors
    • Greenlee County Board of Supervisors
    • Pinal County Board fo Supervisors
    • Benson City Council
    • Bowie Chamber of Commerce
    • Graham County Chamber of Commerce
    • Willcox City Council

    ...instead of endorsing the No Action alternative and/or the Southline Transmission project. [These can be read on our Other DEIS Comments page, under SunZia]. Read David Omick's letter to the Wilcox Range-News, which succinctly explains the error.

September 2012

  • Important new DEIS comment from the US Fish and Wildlife Service

  • New DEIS comments to read:

  • SunZia DEIS comments (Tom Wray)--
        We've archived five DEIS comments from Tom Wray [see our Other DEIS Comments page] that had been posted on the SunZia website, but have since been taken down. In response to the fifth comment, CWG is posting the following notice:

    Notice of Disclosure: None of the comments submitted to the BLM on this website mentions SunZia’s participation in the BLM’s public scoping or review meetings for this project. Although some of the comments strongly criticize the format of these meetings, none of them states or implies that SunZia personnel gave presentations at these meetings, nor do they criticize SunZia’s involvement and behavior at these meetings.

  • Thanks to all who participated in our fundraiser benefit (Sept 22), co-sponsored by the Cascabel Conservation Association. (See our facebook page).

August 2012

  • Here is a comment from the folks at the Continental Divide Trail Coalition

  • Read Tim Vanderpool's Tucson Weekly article on the last SunZia public meeting: Power Push, People want to talk about the proposed SunZia power line - but the BLM does not want to hear it. Finally, a fun read.

  • CWG has released its extensive response to the BLM's DEIS (draft environmental impact statement)

  • See the outpouring of potent DEIS comments from local environmental and other groups

  • Read DEIS Comments from Peter Warshall and Associates:
    • "The DEIS does not meet NEPA standards and has grave inadequacies and incomplete and unavailable information"...
    • "The best action at this time would be a Deferred No Action Alternative,"...
    • "The only other alternative that appears reasonable is a Phased Alternative, which was not considered by the BLM/EPG"....
    • "The major problems with this DEIS are: poorly defined project and project purpose; project phasing and timing; inadequate presentation of needs and the scale and timing of project development and its environmental impacts; an economic feasibility statement that is incomplete, unavailable and remote in time and speculative in presentation; an unreasonable elimination of alternatives and mitigation measures; extensive unavailable or unobtainable information that is needed to evaluate adverse environmental and socioeconomic impacts; a poor understanding of crucial NEPA terms such as "significance" as as well poor (or non-existent) definition of terms necessary for understanding a transmission line project (e.g.. transfer capacity, congestion); and apparent biases in the presentation of evidence and evaluations."

  • August 19th on KXCI radio (3:30pm) - CWG's Mick Meader was on the air along with Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club, and Russ Lowes, Energy Chair of the Rincon Chapter of the Sierra Club. This was on KXCI's "A View from Slightly Off Center" program, hosted by David Yerkey. You can find KXCI on your dial at 91.3 FM. We hope you were able to give us a listen.

  • Sierra Club encourages all to Oppose the SunZia Transmission Line!

  • The SunZia DEIS is 2,200 pages long and includes a San Pedro route segment that was not presented during the scoping phase of the project. CWG, along with 15 co-signing groups, sent this formal letter to the BLM requesting:

    • a true public hearing on the SunZia DEIS (vs 'review meetings')
    • an extension of the 90-day public comment period on the DEIS (which is 2,200 pages!)
    --->This has been DENIED by the BLM (08/16/12). See their webpage for details.

  • View the CWG SunZia presentation made to our local Community Watershed Alliance (CWA)

  • California does not need out-of-state renewables. Does SunZia really have sufficient "Purpose and Need" to justify its intrusion over our lands and lives? Read a letter from the California Senior Advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities, Michael Picker, to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council.
    "Most California utilities report that they are already oversubscribed for renewable power generation" ...[in response to an inquiry on the need for SunZia to Calfornians]

  • The Washington, D.C. Examiner published an opinion column on the BLM's handling of the SunZia Tucson public review meeting. From the column:
    "I think it's a green-washed marketing scheme saying it's needed to reduce dependence on fossil fuels." Else alleged. "In fact, the only approved project is a huge natural gas-fired generating plant near Bowie, Ariz."

July 2012

  • CWG calls for Public Hearing on SunZia -
    Along with local NRCDs, CWG questions the Purpose and Need for SunZia. See our July 22 Press Release

    From the release:
    " Following a 45-minute presentation by the BLM [July 17th, Tucson] and its consultant about the project timeline and the basic facts of the project, citizens at the meeting held a spontaneous public comment session, despite objections made by the BLM. The BLM refused to respond to questions in front of the audience as a whole and failed to record the comments voiced by the public during the ad hoc hearing.

    This peaceful demonstration was spurred on by Peter Else, a resident of Mammoth, and member of the Winkelman Natural Resources Conservation District. His request to allow the public to speak following the BLM presentation was denied. He then proceeded to outline his concerns about the SunZia project to the 100 people who quietly remained in their seats."

  • Read CWG's letter to the Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and the Deputy Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal
    " Environmental conflicts between the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project and the San Pedro River Valley, Arizona"

  • Read Arizona Star opinion piece from CWG members Lisa Vogel and Mick Meader

  • CWG's Mick Meader appeared on KVOA-TV in opposition to SunZia

  • More Opposition to SunZia Transmission Line

June 2012

May 2012

  • At the end of May, the BLM released its DEIS, recommending a route on the west side of the San Pedro Valley (see our maps page for details).

    • BLM SunZia project main page
    • DEIS - indexed version
      NOTE: the individual files on the BLM DEIS page are so large that it is recommended to right-click on them and select "Save". Experience has shown that left-clicking on the files (which attempts to open them in the browser) can cause some browsers to hang. Opening them later with Adobe Reader (just clicking on the saved file) seems to work much better.
    Comment period ends August 22nd, 2012. Comments can be submitted using this form.

  • Public open houses discussing the DEIS (and soliciting comments) have been scheduled as described in the BLM SunZia newsletter. Some local meetings include:
    Benson - July 12
    Tucson - July 17
    San Manuel - July 18

  • Arizona Congressman Grijalva's important press release on the DEIS

  • No demand for SunZia - Arizona Star article
    "David Hutchens, president of Tucson Electric Power, said there is excess electric capacity in Arizona,..."

  • The Southline Transmission Project has extended its scoping comment period deadline to July 5th. There's still time to offer support to this better project.

April 2012

  • IQA Petition - finally a response! -->the result being that some info has been edited on the BLM website, but there will be no re-scoping or extended public comment period

  • To watch: HB2789 - Power Taken from the Corporation Commission?
    In general, this bill would require that the state Legislature approve any rules made by the ACC.   As of March 19th, the bill passed the Senate majority caucus.   Much of the public focus on this bill has been over the ACC's renewable energy requirements, but...
    Could this bill also affect ACC power line siting decisions?

  • The Southline Transmission Project, which seems to be an environmentally conscious and cooperative effort, is soon to being its initial scoping. Public comments will be accepted by the BLM through June 4th.

    The project is attempting to build primarily along established corridors and it somewhat overlaps with the SunZia project territory and intent. For more information, refer to CWG's report from February 2011.
    The overlap and redundancy between the Southline and SunZia Projects is apparent, and constructing them simultaneously to serve the same area does not appear to make economic sense. Environmentally, the Southline Project is far more benign in Arizona and does not traverse any key environmentally sensitive areas.

  • BLM's SunZia DEIS has been moved back to mid/late June (from May just earlier this month!).

March 2012

February 2012

  • The BLM website has again pushed back the release of the SunZia project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), this time to mid-April. Keep checking the BLM website for any news.

January 2012

  • The BLM website continues to say that its release of the SunZia project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is tentatively set for mid-January (now). Keep checking the BLM website for any news.

December 2011

  • SunZia Opponents Stretch On and On

  • SunZia's alleged new jobs figures require heavy scrutiny
    The first thing to ask yourself when evaluating the veracity of any study is "Who Funded It?". Answer in this case: SunZia themselves. See CWG's research writer, Mick Meader's report containing a more realisitc, reasonable set of potential jobs numbers---not at all like those SunZia would like you to see. ...there is a definite difference between actual "jobs" and "job-years".

November 2011

  • See SunZia's updated proposed routes, offering 3 unacceptable choices: an east San Pedro route, a west San Pedro route, or an Aravaipa route.

  • California Says No Energy Imports Needed
    Another reason why SunZia makes no economic sense. Read the article here, or read a letter from the Senior Advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities

October 2011

  • SunZia - Could it Make it on its Own Merits Without Government Favors and Clever PR?
    --Selling itself as "green" (see Information Quality Act Petition in the September and July news sections),
    --using the Arizona Legislature to attempt to change oversight (see SB1517 in the April news section),
    --and now federal "fast tracking" and the abuse of the "jobs" flag

    Please read this excellent Op-Ed piece from Albert Vetere Lannon of the Avra Valley area (or click here to see it on the Tucson Weekly opinion page.)
  • Obama Plan to Fast-Track Powerlines, including SunZia, in the Name of Creating Jobs
    See the October 5th Associated Press article or a more critical article arguing this has been done before and failed. Renewable Energy World mentions that SunZia, despite claims, does little for geothermal interests

  • The BLM's release of the SunZia project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) further delayed.
    "The DEIS is tentatively scheduled to be released in mid-January 2012." -- BLM website

September 2011

  • San Pedro Valley Cooperative Conservation Initiative

    On September 22, 2011 the Redington and Winkelman NRCD's hosted a meeting with the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Central Arizona College at Aravaipa to introduce the idea of a San Pedro Valley Cooperative Conservation Initiative that could potentially include a National Wildlife Refuge.

    Click here to see CWG member Mick Meader's thorough notes on the meeting

  • Information Quality Act Appeal

    The Winkelman and Redington NRCD's have filed an appeal on their Information Quality Act Petition (see July News section for more detail). The response to the original petition was that the New Mexico BLM would simply make unspecified revisions to the five challenged statements of purpose in the draft EIS. The Appeal explains how this action would defeat the purpose of the scoping period by denying the public and stakeholders the right to comment on an accurate description of the project prior to the final development of the draft EIS. The Appeal also continues to insist that four specific disclosures are made regarding the relationship between the proposed project and non-renewable sources of energy, as well as the regulatory and economic factors that would affect the nature of generation sources ultimately gaining access to the proposed lines. The Washington D.C. based Information Resources officer has until November 5th to respond to this Appeal.

    Here is a copy of the Appeal.

  • The BLM's release of the SunZia project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
    "is tentatively scheduled to be released in mid-October 2011. " -- BLM website

July 2011

  • Information Quality Act Petition - (SunZia's claim to be "primarily renewable" has misled the public)

    The Redington and Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation Districts have submitted a petition to the BLM entitled
    The gist of the petition is that the description of purpose made by SunZia has misled the public and those who attended BLM scoping meetings of the true nature of the project. Their stated purpose is
    " to transport electricity generated from power generation resources, including primarily renewable resources, to western markets and load centers".
    The 'primarily renewable' description which has so heavily influenced supporters of the SunZia project is argued to be purely speculative.

    Click here to view the petition.

April 2011

  • SB1517 was overwhelmingly defeated 40-14-6!  Next step for SB1517 is the Arizona Rules Committee, chaired by Representative Weiers.    SB1517 has moved out of the Rules Committee [for which they called a special meeting with SB1517 being the only item on the agenda] and into the Committee of the Whole. If it continues, it would soon thereafter move onto the House floor.

  • We understand that the Tohono O'odham have refused to allow SunZia across the Garcia strip (and hence down the Avra Valley). Current proposals before the BLM would leave them only with the Aravaipa region or the San Pedro River Valley.

  • an Arizona Star article on SB1517 implies that Frank Pratt, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has been "talking" with the Cascabel Working Group (and others) about possible changes to the bill. This is not correct. CWG has had no official communication with Rep Pratt on the bill; our position is that we want it scrapped.

March 2011

SunZia must not legislate away
our right to be heard!
  • Wilcox Range News published our opinion letter on SB1517 (March 30, 2011).

  • Arizona Daily Star article on SB1517 (April 2, 2011).

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

  • 3/22/11: Unfortunately, SB1517 did not die in committee. By a vote of 5 to 3, the bill lives on. CWG will continue to fight it and we urge you to help us by telling your congressional representatives how you feel. See our SB1517 page for details (congressional contacts at bottom).

  • SB1517 (was SB1547) will hear testimony before the Arizona House Energy and Natural Resources Committee this monday, March 21st. Please read CWG's urgent message containing the latest details and asking that we all take a moment to call members of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

  • Update 3/17/11: SB1547 has now been pulled and rebranded as a "strike-all" bill. (For info on strike-all bills, click here). CWG has been working round the clock with representatives from The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and others (SunZia and their lobbying reps [Copper State Consulting] are also in the loop) to help author an amendment to the bill and get it to congress ASAP, the general focus of which is to guarantee opportunity for public comments on transmission projects like SunZia at the state level. We're very concerned about the wording of this amendment and would prefer that the entire bill was terminated.

  • IMPORTANT: The SunZia-backed Arizona Senate Bill 1547 has been pushed through committee and now goes before the Arizona House of Representatives. We urge you to contact your state representatives to let them know how you feel about this!    Here is an open letter from CWG co-chair, Pearl Mast, to interested parties giving the background and describing the urgent need to speak out against SB1547, including relevant links.

February 2011

  • First the good news:
    The SunZia project's potential environmental disaster could be averted
    by opting for the Southline Transmission Project instead !

    See CWG Board Member Mick Meader's report. Here's a sample:
    The overlap and redundancy between the Southline and SunZia Projects is apparent, and constructing them simultaneously to serve the same area does not appear to make economic sense. Environmentally, the Southline Project is far more benign in Arizona and does not traverse any key environmentally sensitive areas.
  • The bad news: CWG is investigating a questionable bill before the Arizona Senate (SB 1547) which may ease the regulations which govern SunZia's permitting process. From the Bill:
    Purpose: Exempts a person who is contemplating construction of certain interstate transmission lines from Power Plant and Line Siting Committee requirements.
  • CWG's enjoyable Annual Meeting/fundraiser happened on the 19th where a new board was elected.

January 2011

  • CWG is interested in initiating a collaborative process to review the SunZia project through the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

  • The SunZia project's new competition: the Southline Transmission Project. The Southline service area is similar to SunZia's and it is also intended to carry "green" energy... and the best news is that they seem to be environmentally conscious. From their homepage:
    The Southline is sited in a way that enables access some of the best renewable resources in Arizona and New Mexico without crossing the most sensitive lands, including (among others) National Forests, sensitive riparian zones and wilderness study areas. In fact, most of the route recycles rights-of-way, eliminating the need for new roads and minimizing the impact to pristine wilderness. Specifically, our preferred route runs adjacent to abandoned railroad beds and inside of existing transmission corridors.

September 2010

  • CWG, in cooperation with Friends of the Aravaipa Region, releases draft EIS contributions for the Aravaipa Watershed and Lower San Pedro River.

  • New Upload: Map Showing the Variety and Scope of Existing Conservation Efforts in the San Pedro River Valley

SunZia’s relationship to the High Plains Express Project: A potential SunZia route well north of us along established corridors
SunZia Project’s past: Originally proposed to serve the Southwestern Power Group’s Bowie power plant
SunZia’s purpose: The majority of power carried by SunZia will be non-renewable
Wind power potential: Wind power production in New Mexico is nearly perfectly out of sync with southwestern demand

Read CWG member Mick Meader's reports on how the SunZia project came to be what it is today, as well as compelling data on New Mexico wind's poor fit for the SW's power demand.

Click here for Mick's homepage or click our Reports - History, Bowie, Wind? link to the left.

Reports include:
  • The Relationship of the High Plains Express Project to the SunZia Project
  • The Early History of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project
  • The Relationship of the Bowie, Arizona, Power Plant to the Evolution and Scope of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project
  • Transmission Needs for the Bowie, Arizona, Power Plant,
  • Comparison of Peak Wind-Energy Production in Central New Mexico with Peak Electrical Consumption in Arizona and New Mexico

July/August 2010

June 2010

  • CWG member, Mick Meader shares his extensive research on a possible SunZia Tucson route, completely avoiding the San Pedro, Aravaipa

  • Re-Scoping period has ended, but BLM says it will still accept comments
    Please go to our links page for the BLM's SunZia webpage and comment form.

  • FERC rejects SunZia's 'Petition for Declaratory Order'
    The Petition is related to the financial structure of the SunZia project and how the line capacity will be apportioned. The story can be read here, or you can read the Petition itself (and related documents) on the FERC website by looking up docket EL10-39.(For more info about the FERC, see our background page.)

    It is interesting to look at the docket on the FERC's site. Some of the big players [individual SunZia partners as well as another transmission line construction company which could be affected by the precedent set by the FERC's SunZia decision] in the game submitted "intervener requests", which set them up to be more deeply involved in the FERC's decision making process. We need to watch carefully and learn; we may need to set up an intervener process of our own at some point in our efforts, such as with the Arizona Corporate Commission.

  • Military Opposes any 500KV line route through the Ft. Huachuca 'Electronic Testing Range' (i.e., the I-10 Corridor, Benson, the San Pedro Valley)
    Representatives from Ft. Huachuca told CWG that mitigation would be required for any 500Kv line that would pass through their designated electronic testing range. Here is a map of the range, and it covers most of the possible routes SunZia is considering.

May 2010

Provide Feedback to the BLM
Public Comments Being Accepted through June 10th, 2010

The rescoping process has created a window for the acceptance of new written comments: now until June 10. This is probably the most direct way the general public can have its voice heard. Here is the official comment form which can be submitted to:

SunZia Southwest Transmission Project
c/o EPG, Inc.
4141 N. 32nd Street, Suite 102
Phoenix, AZ 85018


Email Adrian Garcia, BLM Project Manager:

For examples and ideas to consider, please see our comments page and our talking points pages. Here is a partial example representing the point of view of the Friends of the Aravaipa Region (FAR):
I understand that the Bureau of Land Management is currently assessing the environmental impacts of the various alternative routes proposed by the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project. I am pleased to see that the SunZia Project is now considering routes that follow the major infrastructure corridor along Interstate 10. Routes within the developed or highly disturbed areas near this corridor are the only appropriate routes for new high voltage lines in the project's Arizona study area. Building a new major infrastructure corridor in the environmentally sensitive areas of the Aravaipa and San Pedro regions would cause permanent damage to our dwindling wilderness areas in southern Arizona. I encourage the BLM to perform their environmental assessments in an objective manner, without the influence of corporate interest in minimizing construction costs. Land lease costs on our public lands are ridiculously low, and could never compensate for the permanent loss of wildlife habitat and wildlife migration corridors. If this project does not have the resources to build its power lines along existing developed corridors, then this project should not proceed. If this turns out to be the case, it would be in Arizona's best long-term interest to develop its own renewable energy resources, while developing the existing distribution network in a responsible manner.

April 2010
BLM Re-Scoping - Public Meeting in Tucson
April 29, 2010

"Let Arizona provide their own energy." ...this is a comment made by a New Mexico resident at the equivalent New Mexico rescoping meeting. We couldnt agree more! (Here is a news article reviewing the New Mexico rescoping meeting.)

The Tucson meeting was mentioned in the Star.

Good news! The BLM has officially reopened the scoping process for the Sunzia project. The study area has been expanded around Tucson (as well as in New Mexico). We would like to believe that this has happened thanks to the efforts of CWG and our many allies, who have been valiantly working to help the SunZia project (and the governmental entities that oversee it) understand that the San Pedro River Valley is not a viable location for a new power corridor.

Comments will be taken at a public meeting on April 29th, 2010 at the Holiday Inn, 4550 South Palo Verde Road..

For more information, see the BLM's SunZia page and the article BLM Seeks Additional Public Input on Proposed SunZia Southwest Transmission Project on the BLM's website.

February 2010

We have received an opinion piece from U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. We are happy that she has taken a position that supports ours. You may download a PDF version of Rep. Giffords statement. You may also download a copy of Raul Grijalva's letter to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. We want to thank Congressman Raul Grijalva and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for taking the time to listen to our perspective and for making their positions publicly available.

January 2010
January 13th, 2010 -- Public Meeting in Cascabel Members of the SunZia project met with the residents of Cascabel on January 13, 2010 at the Cascabel Community Center. Community members received information about the project and were able to ask questions and state their concerns about the project.

We had an excellent turnout for the meeting and would like to thank everyone for attending. We also would like to thank the SunZia folks who attended as well as the Bureau of Land Management and  EPG, the third-party contractor on the  Environmental Impact Study. Several environmental organizations and local organizations were also represented at the meeting and were given an opportunity to make statements. To see some of the what happened at the meeting (and for downloads), visit our presentations page and scroll down to the lower half of the page.

Peter Else, a resident of Dudleyville, Arizona attended the Cascabel meeting and has given us permission to post his insightful comments.

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