With temperatures finally falling and the holidays near, it’s easy to forget we live in the desert. Reliable water and electricity supplies are the foundations for our thriving metropolitan area.
At Salt River Project, it is our mission to provide the water and energy necessary to sustain the economic vitality and livability of the desert communities we serve. This mission has come with many challenges, none of which are more important than ensuring that we are prepared for the next wave of growth.
What will the East Valley be like in the next 30 to 50 years? SRP’s electric service territory has a significant amount of undeveloped land that, with planning and investment, will become a highly desirable destination for new highly urbanized, self-sustaining communities.
Our future power customers will, just like today, need a reliable and renewable supply of water. They will want renewable-energy sources to power even more-efficient air conditioning units to keep them cool, and further connectivity through telecommunications infrastructure for access to faster and better information and data.
These new challenges compliment what has been our mission over the past 110 years. It is our full expectation to be here fulfilling our mission long after the next wave of growth and development has come and gone.
We’re already working with cities and towns in both Maricopa and Pinal counties preparing for the next period of economic growth. First and foremost, developing an adequate and reliable water supply in advance of growth is paramount.
We are establishing partnerships to accomplish this, and are working collaboratively with local communities. It is our intent to ensure that our future electric customers also have enough water – even in places such as Superstition Vistas, where access to water today is very limited.
One example is SRP’s new water resource partnership with the Gila River Indian Community, which you may have read about in the Tribune. The Gila River Water Storage LLC was created in part to proactively initiate the first step in responsible development — securing a long-term, renewable supply of water. Water will provide the basis from which we can work with our neighbors to bring power and telecom to the area, to ensure the area’s economic vitality and make it a great place for businesses and families to locate, live and grow.
In addition to developing water resources, SRP is committed to providing the energy and related infrastructure to meet growing power demands. We are evaluating energy alternatives, from renewable options to the use of central station power plants, to keep up with future growth. One example is the power SRP has recently acquired from two new solar ranches in the East Valley and northeast Pinal County. Those new renewable facilities, the Queen Creek Solar Farm and Copper Crossing, serve current SRP power customers as well as the projected growth that will soon be returning to the region.
And to keep the commercial and industrial customers connected, SRP Telecom, our telecommunications arm, has the ability to develop the fiber optic network necessary to help attract businesses -- many of which may well be located near where people will soon live.
Other projects, such as the East Valley Partnership analysis and branding effort, the continuing expansion of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport hub, ADOT’s plans for new freeways around the airport (State Route 24) and from the U.S. 60 south to Interstate 10, the potential Phoenix-to-Tucson rail line that would cross the East Valley, the growth of ASU Polytechnic as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the expanding Banner Health medical facilities, will combine with the growth of Queen Creek, Apache Junction, Mesa and Gilbert to keep this a highly attractive location.
SRP is still the product of the communities we serve, and you can trust that we’ll be there in the future. We may be new to some of you, but as our neighbors, customers and partners in the East Valley, we look forward to working with you at the ground level to create a sense of place for all to enjoy and to provide the essentials for economic development. Your success is our success, and we are excited to do this together with you.
Bruce Hallin is SRP’s director of Water Rights & Contracts.