A proposed power corridor between Arizona and New Mexico capable of providing more renewable energy is moving forward toward regulatory hearings in both states now that partners have officially signed on.
SouthWestern Power Group II LLC announced Monday that Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power Co., along with Energy Capital Partners and Shell WindEnergy Inc., have signed on to the development team of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project.
SouthWestern Power will be the project manager shepherding the proposed transmission lines between New Mexico and Arizona, dealing with regulators in both states for the 500-mile line.
The announcement is the start of that process, which SouthWestern officials hope will spur more renewable energy production and provide more access points along the Western U.S. power grid.
“In addition to promoting development of wind, solar and geothermal energy production, by creating regional access to these renewable resources, SunZia increases the reliability of the underlying extra high-voltage transmission system in southern New Mexico and southern Arizona,” said Tom Wray, the SunZia project manager at SouthWestern Power.
SRP officials said they joined the plan because of its ability to provide more renewable energy and the hope that the construction will bring in more options for the state.
“It’s kind of like if you build a freeway, you get development,” said Chuck Russell, principal planning engineer with SRP. “We’re hoping it’s a similar situation: If you build it, they will come.”
Alignments for the proposed lines will be identified during the next two years of public hearings in both states. SouthWestern Power hopes to have the first phase of operation ready by 2013.
For information: www.sunzia.net.
by Patrick O’Grady
2 June 2008
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