A sign announces plans for the high-voltage transmission line at 36th Street and M.L. King Jr. Way.

Arizona regulators have approved Tucson Electric Power Co.’s plan to build a new, high-voltage transmission line to improve service to an area that includes the UA Tech Park at The Bridges.

The Arizona Corporation Commission unanimously approved a certificate of environmental compatibility for the project at its open meeting on Tuesday, paving the way for construction.

The new, 138-kilovolt transmission line will extend about 4 miles from the H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on East Irvington Road to the planned Kino Substation, which will occupy about 3.5 acres at the southeast corner of South Kino Parkway and East 36th Street.

The approved route for the power line runs from the Sundt plant west along East Irvington Road, north along East Benson Highway and South Park Avenue, then east on East 36th Street.

TEP says the project will boost electric reliability for customers and help meet growing energy needs in the immediate area of the substation, which is adjacent to the UA Tech Park at The Bridges and includes the South Park, Pueblo Gardens and Western Hills neighborhoods.

The Corporation Commission action followed public meetings and approval by the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee earlier this year.

TEP expects to begin construction in mid-2020, with the new lines and substation to go into service in mid-2021, spokesman Joe Barrios said.

TEP has agreed to provide Pima County with funding to build and maintain a “passive open space park” on about 10 acres surrounding the substation to the south. A city design review committee has recommended approval of the substation and park.

The project is the first of several improvements designed to provide additional transmission capacity in central Tucson, TEP says.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz


David joined the Star in 1997, after working as a consumer and business reporter in Phoenix for more than a decade. A graduate of Ohio University, he has covered most business beats focusing on technology, defense and utilities. He has won several awards.