A new TEP transmission project will support economic development and local job growth by providing service to a first-of-its-kind battery manufacturing facility south of Tucson International Airport.

We’re working to link our TEP’s existing 138 kilovolt (kV) transmission system to new facilities serving aerospace development and supply chain industries planned for Pima County’s 500-acre Aerospace Research Campus (ARC). American Battery Factory (ABF) is building its headquarters and first battery cell gigafactory in the United States at the site.

In January, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved TEP’s plans for an approximately 3-mile transmission line and related facilities that will serve ABF’s manufacturing operations. The upgrade won’t impact service reliability for local residents and other customers in the area. Construction is expected to be complete in 2026.

“Our existing 46-kV infrastructure in the area can’t support American Battery Factory’s long-term energy needs, so the connection to TEP’s 138 system is critical to provide service,” said Adriana Mariñez, Transmission Line Siting Project Manager. “It’s an important project for Tucson. ABF will have an economic impact of more than $3 billion in Arizona.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for ABF’s headquarters was held in October. The company will produce lithium iron phosphate battery cells at its new facilities and has long-term plans to add 1,000 jobs to the region.

During a project hearing before the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee in December, ABF President John Kem described how there is currently no large-scale manufacturing of lithium iron phosphate batteries in the United States.

“Right now, most of the batteries we all increasingly rely on … almost all of the components come from overseas.  And the battery cell is the most important part,” Kem said. “So, we ‘re trying to bring that to the United States with raw materials from the U. S. and North America, and that’ s really the purpose behind what we’re trying to do.”

As the company starts hiring more employees and expanding to four production lines, its electrical needs will increase. “And that’ s where you get into the about a billion dollars aggregate of just investment by us. That doesn’t include all the ancillary jobs and supporting infrastructure that happens in the area,” Kem said.

Pima County Director of Economic Development Heath Vescovi-Chiordi also expressed support for TEP’s project at the hearing.

“This line would … increase the capacity for electrical service at ARC, which is of paramount importance for our economic development efforts here at the county,” said Vescovi-Chiordi. Upgraded utility service in the area “drastically increases our competitiveness in attracting new large employers to the region.”

For more information about TEP’s transmission project, visit the project webpage at tep.com/aerospace-research-campus.

(Photo of ABF groundbreaking courtesy of Sun Corridor Inc.)

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