Solar Energy

Matinee Energy? Power Co-Op Isn't Buying It; Proposed Benson Solar Farm Reportedly too Big for Nearby Lines

Matinee Energy, the Tucson mystery company with ties to two controversial brothers, has plans to build a large-scale, 120-megawatt solar-power plant in Benson.

But even if the firm manages to complete the project, which claims a construction budget "up to the maximum of $444 million," it isn't clear who would purchase the electricity.

It apparently won't be the local power utility, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc.

"It's much too big for any of the wires we have," says Jack Blair, spokesman for SSVEC. "We're not buying the electricity."

The nearest transmission line that could handle Matinee's planned output, power officials say, is a 230-kilovolt line run by southern Arizona's Southwest Transmission Cooperative. That high-capacity power line is about 10 miles away.

In theory, Matinee could build 10 miles of new transmission lines to reach that potential tie-in -- a project that, by itself, would be an expensive, multi-year effort.

The power company's statement to New Times comes a week after Matinee and another company, Zentric, Inc., announced details of their partnership in the project that raised even more questions than we had before.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern