Pentagon Asks MIT Lab to Study Controversial Power Line

Vaxomatic via Flickr

AA Font size + Print

Study aims to find out whether weapons testing at White Sands Missile Range can "adapt to the presence" of the New Mexico based green-energy project. By Bob Brewin

The Defense Department has asked MIT Lincoln Laboratory to conduct a study of the potential impact a planned $1.5 billion electric transmission line will have on test operations at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico.

The transmission line, which has been in development by SunZia LLC of Phoenix since 2009, won Bureau of Land Management approval on June 14 for a preferred route across the northern extension of the missile range. On Aug. 7, the Pentagon told BLM that the proposed route would interfere with weapons tests on the range, which in turn would threaten national security.

(Read more: Pentagon Protests Massive Southwest Green Power Lines)

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., requested the MIT study in September; last Friday he released an Oct. 18 letter in which Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, agreed to the study.

Heinrich backs the SunZia system, touted as a way to export “green” wind and solar energy from rural eastern New Mexico to power-hungry markets in Arizona and possibly California.  The SunZia line will consist of two single-circuit, bi-directional 500 kV transmission lines strung from 135-foot towers spaced 1,400 feet apart, which Defense says will interfere with tests on the range.

In the letter to Heinrich, Kendall said, “I understand this matter is important to New Mexico, and I hope we can identify a solution that meets everyone’s needs.”  The Pentagon has assembled a team that includes MIT Lincoln Laboratory “to look at concerns raised by White Sands Missile Range and examine potential changes to test protocols that would allow the Department of Defense to adapt to the presence of a new transmission line,” Kendall told Heinrich.

Heinrich said in a press release, “I commend the DoD for pursuing this pragmatic approach to identify measures that would allow for both the missions at WSMR to continue and for the construction of the SunZia transmission line.”

Kendall said he expected the Pentagon to complete the study in early 2014. BLM planned to make a decision on the SunZia line this fall; that decision will now be postponed until MIT Lincoln Lab finishes its study.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.