The debate about how best to address these energy issues is happening around the country. A major consideration is the location and capacity of electrical transmission lines in respect to distribution and channeling generating sources that have not previously been on line. The problems and costs associated with the construction of high-voltage transmission lines are of concern to many. A proposal for Green Path North, a transmission line that would travel 85 miles and cross the Mojave Desert in southern California, has drawn tremendous opposition from local residents and environmental groups. The Energy Justice Network has produced educational materials about transmission lines, including the problems with electromagnetic fields, and keeps track of transmission line proposals around the country and in Canada.
The San Luis Valley is facing the same issue. The SLV is a prime location for solar development and some developers wish to create a major electrical generation zone here but need upgraded or new high voltage transmission lines for this to happen. Xcel Energy and Tri-State Generation and Transmission have proposed the construction of a 95-mile, double circuit 230 kV transmission line from Alamosa to Walsenburg. This line would cross La Veta Pass, and would be visible from Highway 160. (See Proposed Transmission Corridor Map).
SLVEC is worked closely with the Citizens for San Luis Valley Water Protection Coalition to address the concerns associated with the construction of this line. We formed a Solar Working Group, and met on a regular basis to discuss future actions. (See Position Paper)
Xcel formally pulled its support of the La Veta Pass corridor line in 2011 and the recent donation of a conservation easement on 90,000 acres by Louis Bacon, owner of the Blanca Trinchera Ranch through which miles of transmission lines were proposed, makes construction of this particular segment doubtful.
Tri-State and SLV Rural Electric Coop have recently announced (January, 14, 2013) a proposal to construct a high voltage line hooking into New Mexico from Antonito. Click here for the press release on this proposal. This shows to some that the La Veta Pass route is no longer being considered.
The creation in 2013 of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico may make a southern route from Antonito problematic as the transmission line would go through the monument.
SLVEC works to protect the public lands involved in all aspects of renewable energy development, and to protect the biological resources, ecosystems and natural diversity of the San Luis Valley.