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Another power corridor planned through Pinal

Another major electric power transmission corridor is being proposed through Pinal County.
A consortium of power providers has begun initial work on getting approval for a 500-mile transmission line corridor running from east of Alamogordo, N.M., down through the Las Cruces and Deming, N.M., areas, then into Arizona, running to the Tucson area and then north through the Coolidge-Florence area toward Phoenix.
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The project’s Internet site says the corridor being applied for would be wide enough to handle two 500-kV lines. The major line that was approved earlier through the Casa Grande area is also 500-kV.

Regulatory hearings have yet to be held, no final route has been selected and it wouldn’t be until 2013 that the first power would be transmitted.

An announcement by SouthWestern Power Group said it has been joined in the development of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project by Salt River Project (which owns the Desert Basin generating plant in Casa Grande), Tucson Electric Power, Energy Capital Partners and Shell WindEnergy.

“SunZia will provide new delivery paths to electricity markets for existing and developing energy resources, primarily renewable resources such as wind, solar and geothermal projects in both states, the announcement from SouthWestern, which will manage the project, said.

“Through strategic interconnections, customers in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California will have access to these new resources to help meet their local power needs.”

The announcement said specific alignment of the corridor “will be determined after detailed evaluation of alternative transmission system configurations and routes. Local, state and federal permitting efforts will begin immediately, including an extensive public involvement process, with the first phase expected to initiate commercial operation by 2013.”

More details are available at the SunZia Web site, www.sunzia.net.

A story in the Phoenix Business Journal quoted SRP officials as saying they joined the plan because of its ability to provide more renewable energy and the hope that the construction would bring in more options for the state.

“It’s kind of like if you build a freeway, you get development,” the newspaper quoted SRP Principal Planning Engineer Chuck Russell as saying. “We’re hoping it’s a similar situation: If you build it, they will come.”

By HAROLD KITCHING, Staff Writer

Casa Grande Valley Newspapers

11 June 2008