Jul 11, 2012 7:51 PM
TUCSON - There's a power struggle heating up in Southern Arizona. The SunZia Southwest transmission project plans to string 500 miles of transmission lines from New Mexico through Arizona. Those lines will deliver electricity throughout the southwest.
SunZia will use solar and wind to generage much of the electricity, but some environmental groups and landowners are still opposed to the project.
Mick Meader is a retired geologist and a vocal leader for the Cascabel Working Group. Cascabel is a community along the San Pedro River stretching from Benson through Cascabel and Redinton. Meader and Matt Clark of Defenders of Wildlife are mapping out a plan to stop SunZia from carving up the San Pedro River Valley.
"This will fragment one of the largest areas in Arizona that hasn't been broken up by development and roads. Only the Grand Canyon has a larger unfragmented area," said Meader.
Meader and Clark would both rather see SunZia use existing corridors for this project. SunZia agrees it tries to use existing corridors when available, but the final decision will be made by the Bureau of Land Management. In a statement emailed to News4 Tucson, Ian Calkins wrote: "SunZia aims to tap into the tremendous renewable resources (solar, wind etc) in the southwest. Energy diversity benefits us all. And while we all demand clean renewable and reliable power, nobody wants to see a power line. Recognizing this truism, we are urging the US Bureau of Land Management to consider the alternate northern route which has the least impact. "
Right now the BLM Is considering four possible routes, including one that would run right through Tucson. Five public meetings are scheduled over the next week so residents can see the plans and voice their opinions.
Each open house will run from 5:30PM to 8:00PM with a formal presentation at 6:00PM. Below are the dates and locations of these open houses:
7/11/12 SAFFORD HIGH SCHOOL
1400 W BULLDOG BLVD
7/12/12 BENSON SCHOOL
360 S PATAGONIA ST
7/17/12 PALO VERDE MAGNET SCHOOL
1302 S AVENIDA VEGA
7/18/12 SAN MANUEL HS
711 S MCNAB PKWY
SAN MANUEL, AZ
7/19/12 ELOY JR HS
404 E PHOENIX AVE