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Ariz. co-op, ATC to develop transmission in southwestern US

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Ariz. co-op, ATC to develop transmission in southwestern US

Arizona Electric Power Cooperative Inc. and a branch of American Transmission Co. LLC will pair up to develop transmission projects in Arizona and the southwestern United States.

The new company, to be known as ATC Southwest, will benefit electric cooperative members and electric consumers in the Southwest by developing options to help address the demand for an affordable, reliable transmission system, AEPCO and ATC Development Co. said Jan. 30.

"Arizona and the Southwest are growing, and we're already seeing increased demand for power that can only be met if we're willing to step up and develop the transmission projects that will meet that demand over the next two decades and beyond," AEPCO CEO Patrick Ledger said in a statement.

ATC Development President and CEO Mike Rowe said ATC Southwest "will be adding value through identifying and implementing transmission solutions that deliver reliability, economic and renewable energy benefits in the southwestern United States."

The announcement of the partnership did not include potential transmission projects and representatives did not have any more information about possible projects. The companies, however, touted strengths they each bring to the partnership.

For its part, AEPCO has more than five decades of engineering, constructing, maintaining and operating generation and transmission systems in Arizona. The not-for-profit, member-owned generation and transmission cooperative also has established relationships with energy providers throughout the Southwest that can facilitate future transmission development. It is comprised of six distribution cooperative members in Arizona, California and New Mexico and owns the Apache power plant in Cochise County, Ariz.

ATC, meanwhile, has invested more than $4.1 billion to improve the adequacy and reliability of the transmission infrastructure in the Upper Midwest. The Wisconsin-headquartered company provides transmission service to 26 utilities and said its cost controls, purchasing and benchmarking strategies result in construction cost estimate accuracy that consistently beats the industry average.

ATC Development said it plans to leverage these strengths through the partnership with AEPCO. It already has a partnership with Duke Energy Corp., called Duke-American Transmission Co., which owns an interest in one 500-kV transmission line in California and has other projects under development in California and elsewhere in the western U.S.

AEPCO spokesman Geoff Oldfather said benefits from the partnership come from increased efficiencies and shared resources. "That means if there are needed transmission projects down the line, they can be developed quicker and we feel at a lower cost," he said.

With word of the joint venture out, ATC Southwest will move forward in the first quarter with filing for a certificate of convenience and necessity at the Arizona Corporation Commission, ATC spokeswoman Laurie Dunham said. This certificate grants operating authority to utilities, according to the commission website.