WAPA partners with Tucson Electric Power to rebuild transmission line
WAPA and Tucson Electric Power announced a joint venture agreement to rebuild approximately 60 miles of the Parker-Davis Project transmission system.
By working with TEP, WAPA can upgrade much of the Parker-Davis Project infrastructure without increasing WAPA’s transmission rates. The rebuild will improve system reliability and ensure WAPA keeps the lights on for Arizona utility customers.
The project crosses Tucson, Arizona between the Nogales and Saguaro substations, which are adjacent to TEP’s Vail and Tortolita substations. The Vail-to-Tortolita project consists of upgrading an existing 115 kV single circuit line owned by WAPA, replacing it with a 230 kV double circuit line. WAPA will operate one 230 kV circuit and TEP the other. The existing wooden pole structures from the 1950s will be replaced with steel monopoles.
“This partnership will deliver the benefits of more reliable and resilient power service for TEP and WAPA customers,” said Director and CEO Tracey A. LeBeau. “This project could serve as a model to show how future large-scale public-private partnerships can help improve our country’s energy infrastructure.
“The level of collaboration has been unprecedented for a project of this size and complexity,” said Erik Bakken, vice president of system operations and energy resources for TEP. “This project will benefit our customers while enabling greater integration of renewable resources, supporting our development of a cleaner, greener grid.”
TEP will finance the project, while WAPA will be responsible for project management and construction. The project is expected to start in 2023 and be completed by 2026.
Under the agreement, WAPA and TEP will each own and operate a 230 kV circuit. WAPA’s circuit will be operated at 115 kV to match the existing system, so upgrades will not be required at the substations. Ownership of the transport structures will be shared between WAPA and TEP. For more information, visit the project website.
The Vail-to-Tortolita project was originally a component of the larger Southline transmission project. TEP purchased development rights from Southline, LLC, in 2021 for the western portion of the project. Other elements of the Southline transmission project, in which WAPA is participating, include the reconstruction of the existing transmission line between the Nogales and Apache substations in southeastern Arizona and the construction of new transmission lines between the southern New Mexico and Arizona.