The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project (SunZia) presented a $300,000 check last week to the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) to help fund watering stations for wildlife in remote areas, including locations within Pinal County, one of which is located between Superior and Kearny.
The funds are part of a broad joint conservation effort by SunZia and AZGFD to help enhance wildlife habitat in southeastern Arizona. The effort was the result of a comprehensive wildlife preservation agreement executed by the parties in Jan., 2016.
“SunZia is proud to be part of this dynamic public-private partnership,” said Tom Wray, project manager for SunZia. “We look forward to continuing these conservation efforts with the Game and Fish Department to ensure that Arizona’s critical wildlife habitats are preserved.”
“Today’s focus on the importance of strengthening water catchments is just the tip of a revolutionary partnership between a private energy project developer and Arizona government,” said Ty Gray, director of the Arizona Game & Fish Department. “The partnership includes a wide range of protective measures that provide one of the most progressive plans for mitigating and conserving Arizona’s wildlife resources and the habitat on which they depend.”
“Pinal County is excited to join with SunZia and Game and Fish in this important effort,” said Supervisor Steve Miller, chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors. “Wildlife domains are critical to Pinal County’s quality of life, and materially contribute to outdoor recreation and our tourism industries. Today those habitats have been strengthened thanks to the hard work of SunZia and Arizona Game and Fish. Because of the cooperation of Game and Fish and SunZia’s donation, additional water catchments will be installed to assist wildlife during our drought periods.”
Pattern Energy is a windpower developer and will ship windpower over SunZia’s transmission line. Adam Cernea Clark, manager of Environmental & Natural Resources for Pattern stated “Pattern Energy joins with SunZia, Game and Fish and Pinal County elected officials in taking this important step towards the preservation of Arizona’s important wildlife habitat. Combining renewable energy resources with an historic wildlife preservation agreement will ensure that SunZia becomes a model for energy delivery in the Desert Southwest.”
The agreement specified funding for renovation of multiple watering stations, called catchments, used by wildlife, especially in times of drought. Several of the catchment locations are located within Pinal County. The SunZia/AGFD comprehensive mitigation agreement includes a total of 49 measures that include protection plans for migratory birds, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Gila Monsters, Burrowing Owls, Kit Foxes, as well as extensive activities including monitoring, revegetation and habitat restoration. A copy of the agreement can be found here: www.SunZia.net/AGFD
About SunZia: SunZia Southwest Transmission Project is an extra high voltage 500kV interstate transmission infrastructure project that will enable the delivery of electric energy from high capacity wind energy regions in eastern New Mexico to customers in the Desert Southwest. The Project will consist of two 500kV transmission lines and substations and will stretch over 500 miles – Originating in wind energy-rich eastern New Mexico at the SunZia East Substation, to the existing Pinal Central Substation near Coolidge, Arizona. Construction on the first transmission line and substation is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2018, with commercial operation in late 2020. The project’s total transfer capacity is 3,000MW. The project is estimated to cost over $ 2.0 billion. www.SunZia.net
About Pattern Energy: Pattern Energy Group Inc. is an independent power company listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and Toronto Stock Exchange. Pattern Energy has a portfolio of 20 wind power facilities, including one project it has agreed to acquire, with a total owned interest of 2,736 MW in the United States, Canada and Chile that use proven, best-in-class technology. Pattern Energy’s wind power facilities generate stable long-term cash flows in attractive markets and provide a solid foundation for the continued growth of the business. For more information, visit www.patternenergy.com.
About SWPG: SouthWestern Power Group was established in Phoenix in 2000 and is the Project Manager for SunZia. Other development projects include the 2,400MW Gila River Power Station (Gila Bend, AZ), the 1,000MW Bowie Power Station (Willcox, AZ) and a 200MW solar facility (El Centro, CA). SWPG is wholly-owned by MMR Group of Baton Rouge, LA, which is also the majority owner of SunZia. www.SouthWesternPower.com
About the Arizona Game and Fish Department: Arizona Game and Fish is the state agency charged with conserving the entire range of wildlife within our borders, from big game to smaller mammals, reptiles and fish. The Department is one of the nation’s leading proponents of the “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” which relies on sound science, public participation, active habitat management, strict regulation and active law enforcement to sustain wildlife populations. www.azgfd.gov