The Verde Transmission Line Project, proposed by Hunt Power, Inc., which was to transverse 33 miles of scenic Northern New Mexico landscape, festoon a historical ancient trade route and hiking trail, intersect a migratory bird flyway, pass adjacent to two public schools and a sacred Native American mesa, upend a previously approved BLM Resource Management Plan and snake through private property owner’s back yards has fallen on its sword.

Posted on Hunt Power’s website this month:

August 2019 Update

On August 2, 2019, the Verde Transmission Project notified the United States Bureau of Land Management and the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs that the Project would not be moving forward and that the Project was officially requesting to withdraw its application for right-of-way approval from these agencies. This withdrawal will terminate the environmental review process for the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. For more information, visit the Bureau of Land Management website.

On behalf of the entire Project team, we want to thank each Pueblo tribe—Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara, and Pojoaque—for their years of partnership and friendship as we worked to develop this Project. They have our eternal respect, and we wish them the best for generations to come.

Articles confirming the withdrawal of their EIS application appeared in several local newspapers in the past few days including The Santa Fe New Mexican and The Albuquerque Journal .

Although Stop Hunt Power Line has received no formal notification from the Bureau of Land Management confirming the termination of the application, the BLM website posted today (08/19/2019) that Hunt has indeed withdrawn the application and the BLM is processing the termination request.

The Verde Line was one of several Merchant (Private Investment) high-voltage transmission lines currently under various stages of permitting processes in New Mexico. Stop Hunt Power Line is nothing more than a group of folks who got together to understand exactly who these developers are, what motivates them, and how they go about permitting and building such structures. As we dug deeper and deeper into the science, engineering, electrical grid history and design, and regulatory bodies with oversight over these types of projects at the Federal, State and Local levels, we started to understand the bigger picture – There was no need for this line. Moreover, we found there was very little local regulation at the County or State levels that address these behemoths, their safety, locations, service life or decommissioning.

As this battle comes to a close, we are reminded that the war is not over.

There are countless projects on the drawing boards, promoted by venture capitalists who are savvy in rates of return, but will have no stake in the installed systems, their safety or lifespan, as they generally sell the project within a few years of construction to operating utilities or companies. In fact, the horizon for most if not all of these projects from the vantage point of the developer does not include enough time to see the upcoming benefits of distributed generation, owner-owned generation and market innovations in underground high-voltage transmission that will render existing overhead long-distance electrical transmission lines underutilized if not obsolete, and extremely dangerous as regards wildfire and general safety.

Next Steps:

Times have changed. Serving electrical utilities used to propose and build their own infrastructure, subject to scrutiny by the Public Regulatory Commission. With the advent of Merchant (Private) electrical transmission lines, developers may circumvent existing regulations with impunity. The time is now for lawmakers and regulators to update current statutes in the wake of this private boom:

  • In New Mexico, the Public Regulatory Commission should have full authority over Merchant Lines, including the permitting, planning, siting, evaluation of need, decommissioning plan, and expense allocation, including decommissioning escrows. There should be a public process, including formal hearings included in the evaluation.
  • The quasi-governmental body RETA – The New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority - should fall under jurisdiction of the Energy and Minerals Department. It currently reports to nobody and exercises extraordinary powers, including eminent domain, while taking money from Merchant Line proponents.
  • Santa Fe County, and other New Mexico counties, should update their respective Planning and Zoning laws to incorporate a top-level review of any proposed Merchant Line. As an example, Santa Fe County’s scrutiny of a Merchant Line is no more exacting than for someone putting a shed in their backyard.

Stop Hunt Power Line wishes to thank so many individuals and groups that kept the pressure on the process, resulting in the ultimate cancellation of the project. Without all the letters, emails, phone calls and attendance at scores of public forums and meetings, this useless project would have made its way through the system, been constructed and ultimately connected to the PNM grid at a cost of millions of dollars to the New Mexico Electric Rate Payers.

Specifically, allow me to thank and congratulate those who really made an effort and difference in bringing our message and information to light, protecting our local way of life and securing it for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My profound apologies to anyone I missed…

San Ildefonso Pueblo
The Rio Arriba County Commission
The Espanola City Council
The Espanola School District
The Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative Board of Directors
NM Representative Matthew McQueen
NM Representative Andrea Romero
NM Representative Carl Trujillo
Robert Redford
The professional local staff of the US Bureau of Land Management
Santa Fe Commissioner Henry Roybal
Mariel Nanasi and New Energy Economy
RGCA ASL interpreters: Megan Goldberg, Gabrielle Secor, Adam Romero and Cynthia Jiron
The Sustainable Santa Fe Commission
Several THOUSAND petition signers!
Several HUNDRED financial doners!
Kimber Heineman
Jose Lucero
Devin Bent
Rachel Lync-John
Rob Danielson
Heather Nordquist
Lindsay Lovejoy
Mike McDowell
Bruce Throne, Esq
Jane Pratt
Mary Elizabeth Pratt
Ernest Berger
Jan Brooks
Rebecca Perrin
Flo Perkins
Mike and Mary Lou Williams
Moriah Williams
Northern New Mexico Protects Land, Water & Rights
Rio Arriba Health Council
Pojoaque Valley Schools
Pete Domenici Law Firm
Sierra Club
Outside Magazine
Sangre de Cristo Audubon Society
Dr. Albert M. Manville, II, Ph.D, CWB
Marian Naranjo and HOPE (Honoring Our Pueblo Existence)
Kirk Veirs
Larry and Gabe Burke
Siri-Gian Khalsa
Charlotte Roybal

And finally, the amazing Board of Directors of Stop Hunt Powerline (in alphabetical order):

Mattie Allen, Mel Chaney, Merry Conway, Fred Cosandey, Sharon Freeman, Elena Guardincerri, Keith King, Karen Koch, Sarah Manges, Gregor Paslawsky and Flaviano Prosperini

I toast you all!

Rob Heineman
Chair,
Stop Hunt Power Line