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White Sands Missile Range future in question

Updated: Tuesday, January 14 2014, 09:48 PM MST
White Sands Missile Range future in question story image

By: Joshua Zuber


Officials from White Sands Missile Range said there is a new proposed transmission line which may interfere with its operations and missions.

"White Sands Missile Range is the biggest overland range in the Department of Defense," said Dan Hicks, deputy executive director for Strategic Initiatives at WSMR.

WSMR also plays a unique role in the military.

"There is testing activity that can only be done in this part of the country," Hicks said.

Which is awesome for the U.S. military, but there is a potential problem one missile range official pointed out. It's in the northwest corner of a map presented to Las Cruces City Council Monday.

It's a proposed renewable energy transmission line under the Sunzia project. Currently, it's sketched out to go through a portion of a northern extension of White Sands Missile Range.

"The Sunzia project is a very important project to the state and to the army. The (Department of Defense) wants to see the project in place we just believe that there's a win-win situation that you can just move it a little bit farther north and keep it out of critical DOD operation," Hicks said.

The Bureau of Land Management is among other departments involved in negotiations of placement for this line.

According to Hicks, if the power line doesn't move farther north, not only would missions be impacted, but so could the economy of Las Cruces.

A spokesperson for WSMR said some 3,000 people who work at WSMR live in Las Cruces.

"That impacts our ability to execute to our customers' needs, in which case that work load couldn't be done here. And that would be an impact that I couldn't tell you today," Hicks said.

That's also unsettling news for some Las Crucens.

"That's what I am concerned about, to lose $2.8 million. And I have heard, well, if we put these transmission lines up there, that's only 30 percent of the mission impact. Well, there could be a domino effect," Francis Williams said during a Las Cruces City Council work session meeting Monday.

Another member of the public at the meeting agreed with moving the line to the north of its proposed route.

The 40-mile extension would be the best for WSMR but something that could accommodate the company.

"I'm all for future energy," Lisa Parrot said.

There is a land study coming out within the next month which could help figure out where this transmission line should go.

But regardless of that, it is still unclear with a final decision will be made as to where the transmission line will go exactly as more negation is said to be going on.

The full City Council meeting and agenda material can be found below. It includes a presentation for the Sunzia project spokesperson, who was at Monday's Las Cruces City Council work session meeting:

White Sands Missile Range future in question
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