The SunZia project, an extra-high voltage power line proposed to run 515 miles from Southern Arizona to New Mexico, has received a permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The BLM permit was the final hurdle from the federal government that SunZia had to clear, and the company now forecasts construction to start in early 2016.
“The next step is to seek approval from the regulatory bodies in Arizona and New Mexico,” said SunZia's Ian Calkins.
The project would build 135-foot towers through parts of Graham, Cochise, Pima and Pinal counties.
That includes a planned stretch traveling alongside, and ultimately crossing the San Pedro River, which is the part of the plan that environmental groups and local property owners are fighting.
The Sierra Club is working with the Cascabel Working Group, a collective of homeowners who live near the planned SunZia line, close to the San Pedro, and those groups say they are not alone.
“All of the environmental organizations here in Southern Arizona are working on this," said Cascabel Working Group's Mick Meader, "and are working on a challenge to the [Environmental Impact Statement].”
A challenge to the validity or thoroughness of the EIS could hold up SunZia's timeline for beginning construction.