AzGT Partners with CochiseEconomy.com to Move Economic Development Forward
CochiseEconomy.com, SAEDG and AzGT efforts aimed at helping rural communities thrive
For Immediate Release
February 7, 2022
BENSON – Arizona G&T Cooperatives has supported the Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group since SAEDG’s inception a decade ago. Now, through AzGT’s work with SAEDG, AzGT is the primary sponsor of CochiseEconomy.com, a new economic data and statistics clearing house designed to help the region’s economy thrive.
“We at AzGT are excited about the opportunities that the new website brings to our communities,” said Geoff Oldfather, cooperative communications and public relations manager for AzGT. “The goal is to support research, planning and decision-making that improve rural economies.”
The site is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Carreira, an economist who conducts economic impact studies. In creating the website, Carreira applied experience he gained in gathering data for AzGT and other clients including local governments and universities. Calling AzGT an “economic powerhouse,” he has conducted bi-annual studies of the positive impacts that AzGT has on regional rural economies.
“In partnership with SAEDG, AzGT is making information available to all business, big and small—a win-win situation for AzGT, SAEDG, and local businesses and people,” Carreira said.
George Scott, SAEDG executive director, said that AzGT, along with its Member distribution cooperatives, are the biggest supporters of economic development in the area. “With the partnership between AzGT and CochiseEconomy.com, we will be able to attract new opportunities,” Scott said, adding that forming more local partnerships with existing businesses and educating leaders on how they can help will also be important.
Carreira says that Benson, the home of AzGT’s headquarters, has an important strength—land available for development in the Benson area along I-10 and SR 90. “I believe Benson will become the population center of Cochise County,” he said.
Ten years ago, AzGT made it possible for SAEDG to open an office on Benson’s main street using a low-interest loan administrated by AzGT through the Rural Economic Development Loans & Grants (REDLG) program. In total, AzGT has administered $1.2 million in REDLG loans for improvements at Benson airport and at hospitals in Benson and Willcox.
About Arizona G&T Cooperatives
Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) and Sierra Southwest (Sierra) together comprise the Arizona G&T Cooperatives (www.azgt.coop). AEPCO owns and operates the 625-megawatt (combined gross) Apache Generating Station, located at Cochise, east of Benson. AEPCO also owns, operates and maintains 866 miles of electric power transmission line—including line owned in part with other utilities—and 36 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. AEPCO’s 20 MW Apache Solar project is located on AEPCO property adjacent to and northeast of Apache Generating Station. The second project includes SunAnza Phase I, a 2 MW solar array, as well as SunAnza Phase II, which includes an additional 1.4 MW solar array and a battery storage system, all on property owned by Anza Electric Cooperative adjacent to its 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.
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.
AEPCO also serves five Class D energy services Members which are scheduling and trading customers and which include the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Phoenix, AZ; Lincoln County Power District #1, Pioche, NV; Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Southwest Public Power Agency, Maricopa, AZ; and Valley Electric Association, Pahrump, NV.
AEPCO is also a Member/owner of ACES, a nationwide energy management company that helps its Members and customers buy, sell, and manage energy more efficiently and with less risk. The AEPCO/AzGT Benson campus hosts the ACES West Regional Trading Center (WRTC), which benefits AEPCO/AzGT Members and customers.