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ICYMI: Unions are helping to build our clean energy future

Dear Friend,

In December, I was thrilled to see that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) had reached an agreement tohelp construct the SunZiahigh-voltage transmission line in New Mexico and Arizona that will deliver power from one of the largest wind power projects ever built.

As the proud son of an IBEW lineman, I know what these types of union jobs can mean for New Mexicans. It's exactly why I fought so hard to get this project across the finish line — to grow the middle class with skilled trades careers that New Mexicans can build their families around. Today, we are seeing that work pay off.

The combinedSunZia Wind and Transmission Project is already deliveringmassive economic benefits to our state, creating thousands of jobs in our rural communities, while also bringing us one huge step closer to meeting our climate goals and conserving wildlife habitat.

We are putting New Mexico on the map as the place to build our clean energy future.



United States Senator

Electrical Worker

IBEW Signs Billion-Dollar PLA for Southwest Clean Energy Transmission Line

IBEW Signing SunZia

CAPTION: International President Kenneth W. Cooper signs a project labor agreement for a $1.3 billion, 580-mile high-voltage DC transmission line with executives from project developer Pattern Energy and parent company Quanta Services. It is the largest outside branch PLA in decades.

The IBEW signed one of the largest transmission project labor agreements in history for a $1.3 billion, 580-mile power line project in the desert Southwest.

Members from Phoenix Local 769 and Albuquerque, N.M., Local 611 are already at work on the 525-kilovolt lines that will connect the 3.5-gigawatt SunZia wind project to customers in Arizona and California.

At peak, close to 600 members will be on the job.

"It is the largest transmission PLA from renewable generation, and it could be the largest transmission PLA in IBEW history," said Outside Construction International Representative George Arhos. "These jobs will create an economic ripple effect throughout Arizona and New Mexico, pouring money back into local communities."

Early work has already started on the power source for the lines, the $5 billion SunZia project. At peak, SunZia will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and produce enough clean power for more than 3 million homes, developer Pattern Energy said.

The power will come from more than 900 turbines, two HVDC converter stations, 10 substations, multiple operations and maintenance facilities, and more than 100 miles of power lines stringing it all together.

Construction Department Director Matt Paules said the IBEW is in conversations with Pattern Energy to expand the PLA to the entire project.

"I'm optimistic we can find an agreement. We have worked with Pattern before, and the company was recently purchased by Quanta Services, where we have a long and productive history," Paules said. "There is a win-win partnership waiting there for us to find."

The new lines will follow the same right of way as the Western Spirit project, built by members of Local 611 starting in 2021.

Pattern Energy said SunZia will start delivering power to customers in 2026.

The PLA is the result of the many ways and places the IBEW uses its power and influence to create jobs, Paules said.

The primary customers for the energy the SunZia project will generate and carry are in California. For example, one of the first power purchasing agreements for the project was with the Regents of the University of California.

Demand in California for carbon-free energy is driven not just by good intentions but by law.

Under the Renewables Portfolio Standard, the state sets escalating renewable energy procurement requirements for utilities and large energy consumers.

Those standards were passed with the enthusiastic support of IBEW locals up and down the state because they created a market for renewable energy when costs per kilowatt-hour were high. Now that the cost of renewable energy is competitive with carbon-intensive generation, the laws still stimulate the kind of growing demand that developers look for when they contemplate committing several billion dollars to a project, Arhos said.

"Our size and unity give our members a real voice in California politics. That's meant more and better jobs inside the state, but our power in California is creating jobs outside the state," Arhos said. "This is not a part of the country with a lot of outside jobs. Every paycheck deposited in our members' bank accounts is evidence of the power of the IBEW because we are an international organization.

At the federal level, said International President Kenneth W. Cooper, the PLA is another success for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act signed in 2021 and 2022 by President Joe Biden.

SunZia had existed on paper for more than a decade. Shovels are in the ground now because economic realities for these colossal renewable projects changed after those bills were signed, Cooper said.

"Every member of the IBEW knows of a project that was 'coming in six months' for 10 years. That's over," Cooper said. "The work is here because of these laws, and it won't stop coming."