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Arizona Bulk Transmission Siting & Regulation(8-AZ)

The electrical grid in Arizona is part of the Western Interconnection power grid and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is the Regional Entity responsible for coordinating and promoting Bulk Electric System reliability in the Western Interconnection, including Arizona. WECC also provides an environment for coordinating the operating and planning activities of its members as set forth in the WECC Bylaws.

Arizona is included in the WestConnect Transmission Planning area, which covers the desert southwest. In 2007, WestConnect established a subregional planning process and subregional transmission planning is being performed by various groups. In Arizona, transmission planning is performed by the Southwest Transmission Planning Group (SWAT). SWAT is comprised of transmission regulators, government and environmental entities, and transmission users, owners and operators. The goal of SWAT is to promote regional planning in the Desert Southwest.

Subcommittees formed under SWAT include the Central Arizona Transmission System (CATS), Colorado River Transmission (CRT), and the Southeastern Arizona Transmission Study (SATS). In 2013, these subcommittees were merged to form the Arizona Transmission Subcommittee charged with studying the high voltage and extra high voltage systems throughout Arizona and along both sides of the Colorado River between southern Nevada and Yuma.

The following companies/organizations provide transmission in the State of Arizona: Arizona Public Service Company , Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Tuscon Electric Power, Western Area Power Administration, UniSource Energy, SRP, Sierra Southwest Energy, Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, and Southwest Transmission Cooperative.

Arizona Energy Office

In early 2013, the governor of Arizona signed an executive order establishing Arizona’s Master Energy Plan Task Force to draft a master energy plan for Arizona. The task force includes four work groups: Transportation, Fuels and Infrastructure Planning; Business, Regulation and Workforce; Environment, Natural Resources and Land Use; and Technology Development. The Technology Development work group led by the Arizona Commerce Authority addresses several issues, including upgrades to existing transmission infrastructure. The Task Force will submit a draft master energy plan to the Governor by the end of 2013.

The requirements for routing and permitting electric transmission lines are found in Arizona Revised Statute Title 40, Chapter 2, Article 6.2. According to statute, every person contemplating construction of any transmission line within the state during any 10-year period must file a 10-year plan with the ACC on or before January 31 of each year.A.R.S. § 40-360.02(A) Prior to beginning construction of a transmission line, a public service corporation is required to obtain a CEC from the ACC. In general, the ACC has jurisdiction on all proposed above-ground transmission lines designed for 115kV or higher. Utilities proposing transmission lines subject to ACC jurisdiction are required to submit an application with the ACC for a CEC. The TLSC, a committee that includes seven members appointed by the ACC was formed to oversee power plant and transmission line routing issues in the state, considers land use and environmental matters contained in the application, and holds public hearings to deliberate the content. It is chaired by the Arizona Attorney General, or designee, and also includes the Director of Environmental Quality, or designee, Director of Water Resources or designee, and the Director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy, or designee.

According to regulations, the application for a CEC must include a description of the proposed facility and any environmental studies the applicant has or intends to perform in connection with the proposed facility.R14-3-219 The following is a summary of factors the TLSC considers as a basis for its action with respect to the suitability of transmission line siting plans:A.R.S. § 40-360.06

  • Existing plans of the state, local government and private entities for other developments at or in the vicinity of the proposed site.
  • Fish, wildlife and plant life and associated forms of life on which they are dependent.
  • Noise emission levels and interference with communication signals.
  • The proposed availability of the site to the public for recreational purposes, consistent with safety considerations and regulations.
  • Existing scenic areas, historic sites and structures or archaeological sites at or in the vicinity of the proposed site.
  • The total environment of the area.
  • The technical practicability of achieving a proposed objective and the previous experience with equipment and methods available for achieving a proposed objective.
  • The estimated cost of the facilities and site as proposed by the applicant and the estimated cost of the facilities and site as recommended by the committee, recognizing that any significant increase in costs represents a potential increase in the cost of electric energy to the customers or the applicant.
  • Any additional factors that require consideration under applicable federal and state laws pertaining to any such site.

Public hearings are required by the TLSC and the ACC. Following public hearings, the TLSC grants with conditions or denies the CEC. The ACC will make a final determination on the CEC application within 30 to 60 days. The ACC may approve, deny or modify the conditions of a CEC.A.R.S. § 40-360.06 The ACC may also grant a CEC if the TLSC has denied it. The ACC may also deny approval of a CEC application if the applicant fails to include the proposal in the ten-year plan.A.R.S. § 40-360.02 If the TLSC or the ACC fails to act on an application within the time outlined in the statutes, then the applicant may, in its discretion and in the interest of providing adequate, reliable and economical electric service to its customers, immediately proceed with the construction of the planned facilities at the proposed site or, if the application has been made for alternative sites, at the proposed site which in the opinion of the applicant best satisfies the factors (noted above) that the TLSC is required to consider in making its decision.A.R.S. § 40-360.08

Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) – Permit Process

A public service corporation shall not begin construction of a transmission line without first having obtained a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) from the ACC.A.R.S. § 40-281 A CCN is not required to be obtained before applying for a CEC. The CNN and CEC application processes are independent of each other, but can occur concurrently. Applicants are required to demonstrate that the applicant has received the required consent, franchise or permit of the proper county, city and county, municipal or other public authority.A.R.S. § 40-282 In support of the request for a CCN, the following information must be provided:R14-2-1603

  • A description of the electric services that the applicant intends to offer;
  • The proper name and correct address of the applicant, and
    • The full name of the owner if a sole proprietorship,
    • The full name of each partner if a partnership,
    • A full list of officers and directors if a corporation, or
    • A full list of the members if a limited liability corporation;
  • A tariff for each service to be provided that states the maximum rate and terms and conditions that will apply to the provision of the service;
  • A description of the applicant's technical ability to obtain and deliver electricity if appropriate and to provide any other proposed services;
  • Documentation of the financial capability of the applicant to provide the proposed services, including the most recent income statement and balance sheet, the most recent projected income statement, and other pertinent financial information. Audited information shall be provided if available;
  • A description of the form of ownership (for example, partnership, corporation);
  • For an applicant that is an affiliate of an Affected Utility, a statement of whether the Affected Utility has complied with the requirements of R14-2-1616, including the ACC Decision approving the Code of Conduct, where applicable; and
  • Such other information as the ACC or the staff may request.

At the time of filling the CCN, each applicant must notify the affected utilities, utility distribution companies, or an electric utility not subject to the jurisdiction of the ACC in whose service territories it wishes to offer service of the application by providing a copy of the application to them no later than 10 days after filing the application. The attachment to the CCN application should include a listing of the names and addresses of the notified affected utilities, utility distribution companies, or an electric utility not subject to the jurisdiction of the ACC.R14-1603(E)

The ACC can deny certification to any applicant who:R14-1603(G)

  • Does not provide the information required by this Article;
  • Does not possess adequate technical or financial capabilities to provide the proposed services;
  • Seeks certification as a Load-Serving Entity and does not have an Electric Service Provider Service Acquisition Agreement with a Utility Distribution Company and Scheduling Coordinator, if the applicant is not its own Scheduling Coordinator;
  • Fails to provide a performance bond, if required;
  • Fails to demonstrate that its certification will serve the public interest;
  • Seeks certification as a Load-Serving Entity and fails to submit an executed Service Acquisition Agreement with a Utility Distribution Company or a Scheduling Coordinator for approval by the Director, Utilities Division, prior to the offering of service to potential customers. Agreements are to be filed with the Compliance Section, Utilities Division.

Local Process
A CEC granted by the TLSC must be in compliance with all applicable ordinances, master plans and regulations of the state, a county or an incorporated city or town in which a facility will be located.A.R.S. § 40-360.06 This is subject to the power to grant a CEC “notwithstanding any such ordinance, master plan or regulation, exclusive of franchises, if the committee finds as a fact that compliance with such ordinance, master plan or regulation is unreasonably restrictive and compliance therewith is not feasible in view of technology available.” See the reference to state pre-emptive authority in the chart above. Counties and municipalities have the authority to adopt their own zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans.A.R.S. § 9-461.01 A.R.S. § 9-462.01A.R.S. § 11-804 A.R.S. § 11-811 Construction of a transmission line and associated facilities (i.e. substations) may be subject to land use permitting or construction permitting requirements including but not limited to:
  • Conditional Use Permit
  • Special Use Permit
  • Zoning Use Permit
  • Building Permit
  • ROW Permit
  • Grading Permit
  • Road Crossing Permit
  • Other construction-related permits

These permits would be submitted to individual counties or municipalities for their approvals upon determination of final transmission line routes. Counties and municipalities are required to cooperate with a utility if the utility engages in advance planning with the local governments.A.R.S. § 40-360.52

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Arizona Federal

Transmission Siting: Utilities may need a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility.
Transmission Siting Agency: Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona Transmission Line Siting Committee
Transmission Siting Threshold: To construct transmission lines with a voltage of 115kV or greater. ARS 40-360(10) and 40-360.03.
Transmission Siting Act: Arizona Revised Statute Title 40, Chapter 2, Article 6.2
Preemptive Authority: The Arizona Corporation Commission and Arizona Transmission Line Siting Committee have preemptive authority over all transmission siting and construction.
Regulated Entity Definition: A “utility” is defined, in part, as “any person engaged in the…transmission of electric energy.” ARS 40-360(11). A “public service corporation” is defined, in part, as “all corporations other than municipal engaged in furnishing…electricity for light, fuel or power…” Arizona Const. Art. 15, Sec.2.
Public Utility Certificate Threshold: Public service corporations, and utilities may need a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity from Arizona Corporation Commission prior to constructing a transmission project. ARS 40-281.
Processing Timeframe: Certificate of Environmental Compatibility: 240 days