VP Harris touts Arizona-California power transmission line

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ten West Link transmission line, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, in Tonopah, Ariz. (AP Photo/Alberto Mariani)

TONOPAH, Ariz. – Vice President Kamala Harris and two cabinet secretaries on Thursday celebrated the start of construction of a new high-capacity power transmission line between Arizona and California, which they hope will lead to future solar energy farms in the desert outside Phoenix.

Harris said expanding the electrical grid will allow the nation to deploy more renewable energy, a crucial ingredient in addressing climate change.

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“I think we’ve turned the page, and there's consensus that it's time to take this crisis seriously,” Harris said.

The power line known as the Ten West Link will stretch 125 miles connecting electrical substations in Tonopah, Arizona west of Phoenix and Blythe, California on the border between the two states.

President Joe Biden's ambitious plan to move the nation toward more renewable energy requires thousands of miles of new transmission lines to get power from the vacant lands where solar, wind or geothermal energy can be harnessed to cities where it is used. Administration officials say a massive, high-capacity line stretching across a sunny stretch of desert will encourage investors to drop money into large-scale solar fields in Arizona's sunny desert to produce power for Phoenix and Southern California.

More long-distance power lines also allows for the broader use of renewables even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing in a particular location and helps a renewable-heavy grid withstand the vagaries of weather patterns.

“This is an example of what we want to see happening all across the country,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who appeared with Harris alongside Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat.

Biden has set a goal of slashing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. A climate bill enacted last year includes $3 billion for new transmission lines, and Granholm said the administration is working to speed up approvals.

California has its ambitious climate goals, including a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The implementation of the plan hinges on the state’s ability to transition away from fossil fuels and rely more on renewable resources for energy.

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