Bulk Transmission Environment in Arizona
At a Glance
|Environmental Review Process:||Certificate of Environmental Compatibility|
|Environmental Review Agency:||Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona Transmission Line Siting Committee|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Leasing Stage):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Non-invasive Exploration):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Invasive Exploration):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Drilling):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Power Plant Siting):|
|Contacts/Agencies:||Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office|
State Environment Process
Transmission lines with a voltage of 115kV or greater must obtain a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC) from the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The requirements for routing and permitting electric transmission lines are found in Arizona Revised Statute Title 40, Chapter 2, Article 6.2.
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.  The following is a summary of environmental factors the Transmission Line Siting Committee (TLSC) (which is a committee that includes seven members appointed by the ACC formed to oversee transmission line routing issues in the state) considers as a basis for its action with respect to the suitability of transmission line siting plans:
- 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;
- Any additional factors that require consideration under applicable federal and state laws pertaining to any such site. 
Cultural Resource Assessment
The Arizona Antiquities Act of 1960  protects archaeological and paleontological resources on state lands by requiring prior authorization to excavation or collection on state lands  and prohibits defacing of site or objects on state lands.  Institutions, organizations or corporations undertaking archaeological work on state or local lands are required to obtain a permit from the director of the Arizona State Museum (ASM).  All discoveries, including archaeological, paleontological or historical site or object that is at least fifty years old, or human remains and funerary objects, on state lands shall be reported to the director of the ASM. 
The State Historic Preservation Act of 1982  requires the effects on cultural properties be considered at all levels of planning and development by agencies on state lands. Under this act, landowners are also required to report findings of human remains or funerary objects to the director of the ASM. 
Biological Resource Assessment
Consultation with federal agencies is encouraged to coordinate the review of all formal and informal Section 7 consultations under the Endangered Species Act with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Information regarding Arizona's Threatened and Endangered Species is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
Water Resource Assessment
Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)/Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) permitting and Section 401 water quality certification.
Developers must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. Arizona has been granted authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES program within the state. Facilities that discharge pollutants from a point source into waters of the United States, must seek coverage under an AZPDES Permit. The most common point source regulated is stormwater runoff from construction activities and operators of a construction site would seek coverage under the AZPDES General Construction Permit (GCP) (AZG2013-001). To obtain authorization under GCP AZG2013-001, the operator (i.e., the owner, general contractor, individual contractor or a combination there of) of a construction site must submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) by mail or online. The ‘operator’ must also develop and implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that satisfies the conditions of the GCP. Typically the SWPPP does not need to be submitted with the NOI unless the site is located within ¼ mile of an impaired water or Outstanding Arizona Waters (OAW). If a SWPPP is submitted with the NOI the ADEQ will notify the applicant within 30 calendar days after receiving the SWPPP if the SWPPP needs revisions or if permit coverage is granted or denied.
Developers requiring a Section 404 (Dredge and Fill Permit), which covers impacts to wetlands and other waters of the United States and is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, are required to obtain a Section 401 (Water Quality Certification) from the state of Arizona. In Arizona, state water quality certification is outlined in ARS 49-202(B)-(K) and is administered by the ADEQ. ADEQ must ensure that the project will comply with surface water quality standards and applicable water quality improvement plans, and will not adversely impact impaired waters. If a project will result in the discharge to an Outstanding Arizona Water (OAW) or Impaired Water, then the ADEQ may require an Individual Certification with additional conditions. For individual permits, ADEQ will issue a draft 401 Certification for public notice and comment which typically lasts 30 days. 401 Certification Applications are available on the ADEQ website.
Air Quality Assessment Process
In Arizona, air quality statutes and regulations are codified in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Title 49, Chapter 3 and air Arizona Administrative Code (AAC), Title 18, Chapter 2, respectively. The state has also established the Arizona Ambient Air Quality Standards (AAAQS) in addition to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) established by the EPA. Furthermore, some counties within the state have their own air pollution control programs and operate pursuant to agreements with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
Although an air permit for the construction of a transmission line is not required in Arizona at the state level, a permit would be required if construction and operation of a batch plant is necessary for the construction of a transmission line project. To expedite the processing of an air quality control permit application, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has created a general permit for Concrete Batch Plants in lieu of an individual permit. Applicants wishing to obtain a Concrete Batch Plant General Permit shall apply to ADEQ, except for facilities solely located on an Indian Reservation or in Pima, Pinal, or Maricopa Counties, for which, the local air quality agency will process the air quality permit application. The ADEQ provides an Application Packet for A Concrete Batch Plant General Permit to assist applicants with the submittal and information that is required to process their application for a permit.
Developers should review local codes and ordinances to see if there are any county or local specific air quality regulations that may apply to the proposed project.
Electric and Magnetic Field Regulations
Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are invisible areas of energy that surround any electrical device including transmission lines, electrical wiring, and household appliances. Most medical experts and other scientific peer reviews of the more than 30 years of conducted research agree there is no conclusive evidence of harmful effects from exposure to EMF nor has there been a demonstrated biological mechanism that links EMF exposure to a disease. EMF Electric Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power: Questions and Answers brochure contains more information regarding EMF.
Although the State of Arizona has no known magnetic field regulations, local governments may have regulations relating to EMF standards.
Developers should be aware that the potential effects of transmission projects on visual resources has been a major challenge in siting transmission facilities. Transmission line projects may cause visual contrast within the landscapes they cross due to their length, size and the regular geometric forms of the transmission towers. These projects may affect sensitive viewers (i.e., residents, recreationist, etc.) located along the right-of-way.
Analysis of impacts to visual resources as a result of a transmission line project may be required as part of a federal, state or local permitting process. For example, at the federal level, a project required to go through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process must evaluate impacts to visual resources. In addition, some public agencies have requirements or provide guidelines for evaluating and assessing impacts to visual resources for projects that cross their jurisdiction. For example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have developed methodologies for inventorying visual resources and assessing visual impacts on lands under their respective jurisdictions.
In Arizona, projects requiring a CEC are required to consider existing scenic areas as part of the CEC application process. However, no specific regulations or guidelines were identified for assessing scenic resources.
Developers should review local government resource management plans, comprehensive plans, regulations, etc. to identify any permit requirements as they relate to scenic/visual resources.
Waste and Hazardous Material Assessment Process
Permits as they relate to regulated quantities of waste and hazardous materials do not typically apply to transmission line projects; however, applicants should review federal, state, and local laws and regulations for permits that may be applicable. Some ancillary facilities such as certain types of substations may require compliance with state and federal waste and hazardous materials regulations.
Local Environment Process
The 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.  Construction of an transmission line and associated facilities (such as substations) may be subject to lands use permitting requirements. Commonly required local permits include (but are not limited to) Conditional Use Permits, Special Use Permits, Zoning Use Permits, and Right-of-Way (ROW) Permits.
Policies & Regulations
- AAC R-18-8-260 Hazardous Waste Management System
- ADEQ 401 Water Quality Forms
- ADEQ Hazardous Waste Management website
- ADEQ Managing Hazardous Waste Handbook
- ADEQ Nonpoint Source State Management Plan
- ADEQ Water Quality Forms
- An Introduction to Electric Power Transmission
- Arizona Administrative Code
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's AZPDES Website
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's Application Forms and Guidance Website
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's General Permits Website
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's Individual Permits Website
- Arizona Online Environmental Review Tool
- CHAT: Crucial Habitat Assessment Tools
- Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning
- NPDES Permit Writers Manual
- Ariz. Admin. Code § R14-3-219 (2006).
- A.R.S. § 40-360.06 (2014). Section (A)
- A.R.S. § 41-841 (2015). 841 through 844
- A.R.S. § 41-842 (2015).
- A.R.S. § 41-843 (2015).
- A.R.S. § 41-844 (2015). (A) and (B)
- A.R.S. § 41-861 (2015). 861 through 865
- A.R.S. § 41-865 (2015). (A
- A.R.S. § 40-360.06 (2014). Section (D)