APS Transmission Line Legal Assessment

– Letter from the President –

At the end of the BPC Meeting July 13, the Council reconvened in Executive Session after all guests had departed.   Discussion followed a motion to authorize the raising of funds to proceed with analysis of the prospects for successful litigation regarding the proposed APS Transmission line crossing USFS land above ground.  It was noted that if the motion were approved, the process would necessarily become public. Motion was approved. The first step in this public process is for the attached letter from President John Wichert to be sent to you, the BPC email subscriber list. This email will be followed by an article in the Villager coming out on Tuesday.  Click to view or download a copy:  Letter to the public regarding the APS Transmission Line Legal Assessment.  Text of the letter follows:

APS Transmission Line Legal Assessment


Dear Big Park Council Subscriber, For the past three years the Big Park Council (BPC) has been hard at work as your voice and has been actively opposed to Arizona Public Service’s (APS) proposed new 69,000-volt, above-ground transmission line that would serve as a “back-up” power source to the Big Park/VOC area.  As part of our duty to the community we want to make everyone aware of the potential issues and possible solutions surrounding the proposed 13.7 mile, above-ground powerline, strung along 65-foot high rust-colored steel poles, running from McGuireville into the VOC. Issues:Degradation of our Beautiful SceneryThe 6,000 residents who reside here, and some 3 million visitors annually, are attracted to the area because of the spectacular red rock settings and various recreational opportunities.  However, in the near future some of those views and trails may be degraded by the new, above-ground eyesore leading into the Village!  About 90 percent of the route would cross Coconino National Forest (CNF) land designated as a “high scenic integrity objective” by CNF.   Given this special rating, CNF would actually have to issue a special use permit to APS since the powerline conflicts with this management objective.  Unfortunately, while the Council has worked closely with the Forest Service – which now proposes burial of about one-third of the route, Kel Fox Trail and most of the remaining section entering the Village would remain an above-ground nuisance. Fire RiskNot only is BPC concerned about preserving viewshed corridors around the area, but wildfire risk is also another significant concern given that federal and state agencies rate the risk in this valley as extremely high compared to other Arizona communities. A downed powerline or even mylar balloons drifting into a high-voltage line can spark a catastrophic fire. BPC Current Stance and Action:

  • BPC opposes an above-ground powerline and instead recommends burial in key sectionsor considering other, more environmentally friendly alternatives such as battery storage or clean-burning mobile generators to supply power during outages, or studying the feasibility of a solar-powered microgrid.  We are not opposed to improving the energy security of our area.
  • BPC plans to appeal any adverse decision by the Forest Service to the regional forester in Albuquerque.
  • To be prepared in the event of an adverse decision, BPC is now moving forward with due diligence legal research with the intent of stopping the proposed power-line project in federal court.

How You Can Help: We need your help funding legal research which is expected to cost up to $10,000.  The BPC has a shoestring budget and does not have the funds to move forward without your help.   Every dollar counts! We hope to reach this fundraising target by late fall before a final decision is reached by the Forest Service.  If the legal analysis suggests a reasonable prospect for success in court, then the legal clinic with whom we’re discussing this matter, Earthrise Law Center, may be able to undertake a pro bono engagement on behalf of the community. How to Donate:  Big Park Council accepts online payments via PayPal, Venmo or Zelle by entering BPC’s username BuryVOCPowerline@gmail.com or @buryvocpowerline.  Checks can be made out to “Big Park Council” with a notation “Bury VOC Powerline” at the bottom left, and mailed to Big Park Council, P.O. Box 21021, Sedona, AZ 86341.  Please note that if the Council’s application for transition to a 501(c)3 is approved by the IRS, your contributions may be tax-deductible.  We will notify you if and when this occurs. For more information, please go to our website and click the drop down ‘Local Issues’ tab to select “APS Transmission Line.”  Feel free to submit any questions to BuryVOCPowerline/bpc@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your support and for being a part of this amazing community!                                                           Sincerely, John Wichert,President Big Park Council