Transmission Companies Must Mitigate Power Line Impacts
U.S. Representative Steve Pearce has said it’s up to SunZia to mitigate concerns about its proposed high voltage power line which would cross the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The Department of Defense (DOD) and a recent study indicate the $1.2 billion project could interfere with missile tests and result in a reduced mission or otherwise endanger the range. The missile range is essential to U.S. national security. Pearce noted that the study confirmed several problems: vertical obstruction of missile tests because of the height of the proposed power lines, debris falling on the lines if a missile fails, and electromagnetic interference from transmission infrastructure.
Sunzia appears to want the U.S. military to make a number of operational adjustments in order to accommodate the proposed high voltage line. An Albuquerque Journal editorial agrees with Pearce that Sunzia must mitigate the DOD’s concerns “…because it is the private power line company that wants to encroach on land that has long been used for White Sands missions, not the other way around”. The missile range must be protected and, as the editorial continues, “That should not be sacrificed for a few private business interests hoping to make a pile of money at taxpayers’ expense.” The DOD would not have to make adjustments, even if they were feasible, “…if Sunzia would agree to bury all or parts of the line across the call-up zone”.
Sunzia’s proposal includes building 2 parallel 500kV transmission lines on towers 200 feet tall for a minimum of 500 miles from New Mexico and Arizona to power hungry customers in California. See this link for more details and concerns.
Sunzia’s suggestion that the DOD could simply make some adjustments to accommodate a new power line is typical of the transmission industry’s attitude. In spite of existing and/or historic land uses, transmission companies automatically assume that it’s in the best public interest for ugly overhead high voltage power lines and towers to criss-cross the countryside and negatively affect other land uses, aircraft, the environment, property values, viewscapes, safety, health, tourism, agriculture, and pipelines (to name a few). It’s about time more politicians stand up for their constituents’ concerns about all of these overhead power lines, like U.S. Representative Steve Pearce has done. And, it’s about time transmission companies started burying more power lines to eliminate the negative impacts of overhead lines.