AzGT Community Commitment Nationally Highlighted

National Webinar Features AzGT’s Involvement in Rural Health, Economic Development


Geoff Oldfather, (520) 586-5465, C: (520) 444-3473,

J.D. Wallace, (520) 586-5157, C: (520) 235-4203,


BENSON – Arizona G&T Cooperatives was recently featured in a webinar designed to train other rural electric cooperatives in how to promote Community Wellness Through Community Partnership.

“We wanted to feature Arizona G&T Cooperatives as a G&T that is very involved in philanthropic efforts and in helping improve the overall wellbeing of the communities it serves,” said Scott Bialick, senior program manager for business development for Touchstone Energy, the strategic communications cooperative that serves about 700 of the nation’s not-for-profit and mostly rural electric co-ops.

The percentage of cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in nonmetro  areas overtook those of metro areas in November. Rural areas have also struggled with rising unemployment and business closures as a result of the pandemic. That’s why Touchstone Energy, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the National Rural Economic Development Association joined together to sponsor a series of webinars titled Community Wellness Through Community Partnerships.

The webinar covered AzGT’s support of:

  • COVID testing events through Chiricahua Community Health Centers Inc. (CCHCI), co-sponsored with Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, in Willcox, Benson and Sierra Vista
  • Sponsoring Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of southern Arizona
  • Matching donations through CoBank’s Sharing Success program to install power for the RMHC mobile dentistry unit at CCHCI’s Benson clinic
  • Using Sharing Success to continue sponsorships and donations to food banks and other organizations
  • Low-interest rural economic development loans through REDL&G, a USDA program, to fund:
    • a new aircraft fueling facility at the Benson airport
    • Benson Hospital’s Family Health Care Clinic and its physical, speech and occupational therapy clinic
    • a digital record-keeping project at Northern Cochise Community Hospital in Willcox
    • and the Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group office in Benson.

Emily Vickers of CCHCI  commented on the impact of AzGT’s support for public COVID-19 testing. “The funding provided for testing at the height of the outbreak literally saved lives,” she said.

Bialick explained why AzGT and Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative were selected to share their stories through the webinars: “Showcasing these best practices will inspire other communities to take an active role in improving their hometowns.”


About Arizona G&T Cooperatives

Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) and Sierra Southwest (Sierra) together comprise the Arizona G&T Cooperatives ( AEPCO owns and operates the 605-megawatt (combined gross) Apache Generating Station, located at Cochise, east of Benson. AEPCO also owns, operates and maintains 841 miles of electric power transmission line—including line owned in part with other utilities—and 33 substations to provide wholesale electric power from Apache to six Member distribution cooperatives in southern Arizona, western New Mexico, northwestern Arizona and California.

Sierra is the vehicle to develop new ways to serve the renewable energy needs of AzGT Member cooperatives and customers, and helps maximize solar and other renewable tax credits. Sierra has initiated two utility-scale solar projects; the 20 MW Apache Solar project on AEPCO property adjacent to and northeast of Apache Generating Station, and SunAnza, the 2 MW solar array adjacent to the Anza EC headquarters in Anza, California.

Combined, the distribution cooperatives that receive AEPCO’s wholesale power serve more than 161,000 meters representing more than 420,000 individual residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial member/consumers.

The Class A Member cooperatives that receive wholesale power from AEPCO include Duncan Valley Electric Cooperative, Duncan; Graham County Electric Cooperative, Pima; Mohave Electric Cooperative, Bullhead City; Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Willcox; Trico Electric Cooperative, Marana; and a California member, Anza Electric Cooperative, Anza, California.

These Member cooperatives own AzGT and, by extension, AzGT’s Member distribution cooperatives are owned by their members—the people at the end of the line who use the power.