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Pinal County Supervisors Approve Land-Use Change For Solar Company

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors this month paved the way for a nearly 3,000 acre solar power plant by changing the land-use from residential to green energy production.

“The Picacho Solar Project will help serve the area’s projected electrical demand growth with clean, renewable solar power,” said SunPower spokeswoman Ingrid Ekstrom in an emailed statement.

SunPower plans to transform almost 2,726 acres into power-generating solar panels. Nearby utility infrastructure, including connections to Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power, made the site attracted. The planned facility also includes energy battery storage.

Ekstrom said the project is expected to generate approximately 300 jobs during construction.

A review found no legally protected animals or cultural resources in the area.

After a request from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, SunPower adjusted its plans to skirt a wildlife corridor in the southeast corner of the property.

Pinal County officials must approve a rezoning before construction can begin. SunPower expects to start producing electricity by 2020.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.