VIDEO: DOE, Arizona utilities announce transmission infrastructure project energization

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The Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration (Western) and a group of Arizona utilities celebrated the energizing of a new transmission infrastructure project that will serve the state’s growing electrical energy needs, attract renewable energy development to the area, and strengthen the transmission system in the Southwestern U.S.

The 109-mile Electrical District No. 5-to-Palo Verde Hub (ED5-PVH) transmission project in Arizona advances America’s energy infrastructure by eliminating system constraints and providing increased capacity access to affordable energy in the region.

“This newly energized transmission line bolsters the reliability and resiliency of the power grid while improving opportunities for new renewable energy generation in Arizona,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. “With America’s domestic energy boom, increasing energy transmission capacity is vital to continued energy development and to expanding access to affordable energy produced here in America.”

ED5-PVH starts at the Palo Verde market hub near Wintersburg in Maricopa County, Arizona, and runs southeast to the ED5 Substation in Pinal County, Arizona. The Palo Verde market hub is a crucial energy juncture in the western U.S. that serves communities in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

ED5-PVH adds up to 410 MW of bi-directional capacity to the electric grid — enough capacity to power 30,000 homes. That includes 254 MW to the market hub and 156 MW to 18 local Arizona communities, including water conservation and irrigation districts, public power districts and Native American tribes.

The project, completed on time and about $3 million under budget, was a joint effort between Western and the Southwest Public Power Resources Group, a collection of public power companies that include several Western firm electric and transmission service customers.

Western’s borrowing authority, received as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funded the estimated $79 million project through the agency’s Transmission Infrastructure Program. Project beneficiaries will generate enough revenue to repay the government’s investment and accrued interest and cover all operating expenses during the project’s service life.

“This transmission line is a clear example of how, through partnerships, we can modernize our energy infrastructure to jumpstart our energy-based economy ahead of its time. We are extremely optimistic that the new line will add reliability to the region’s grid and provide another pathway to interconnect more renewable generation resources,” said Western Administrator and CEO Mark Gabriel. “We thank our customers and our project partner, the Southwestern Public Power Resource Group. Together, we are building reliable service for Arizona’s citizens for years to come.”

ED5-PVH has already inspired nearby tribal nations to evaluate constructing renewable projects on their lands that could interconnect with the line. The Gila River Indian Community, Tohono O'odham Nation, and Ak-Chin Indian Community are working with Western and the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy to conduct a market assessment.

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