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SunZia Transmission Project

Thank you for joining Tucson Audubon in urging the Arizona Corporation Commission to follow its staff’s recommendation and require public evidentiary hearings for SunZia’s state permitting application!

To email the Commissioners: 

  • Write Docket # L-00000YY-15-0318-00171 in the subject line of the email.
  • Address the email to Chairwoman Peterson, Commissioner Kennedy, Commissioner Olson, Commissioner Tovar, and Commissioner O’Connor.
  • Send the email to,,,, 

To call the Commissioners, use these numbers:

  • Chairwoman Peterson:  (602) 542-3625
  • Commissioner Kennedy:  (602) 542-3933
  • Commissioner Olson:  (602) 542-0745
  • Commissioner Tovar:  (602) 542-3935
  • Commissioner O’Connor:  (602) 542-3682

To send letters to the Commissioners, please use the following address and format:

Title & Name (e.g., Commissioner Olson)
Arizona Corporation Commission
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2996

Whether you email, call, or write letters, please be polite — but please be passionate!

Tell them that you live in Arizona (if you do) or visit Arizona often (if you do); tell them that you pay taxes and spend money in Arizona (if you do); and tell them, in a phrase or a sentence, why you care about this issue (for instance, you love the birds and wildlife of the San Pedro River).

Then urge them to:

  • Follow their staff’s recommendation and require public evidentiary hearings for SunZia’s state-permitting application
  • Reject the false choice between renewable energy and environmental protection, and instead hold SunZia to stringent environmental standards
  • Protect the San Pedro River and its watershed, one of North America’s major migratory avian flyways and home to remote wildlife corridors on which numerous species depend
  • Refuse to allow a private company to dominate Arizona’s transmission capacity by monopolizing a long-distance supply chain — especially one they would own on our state and federal lands!


Further talking points (for those with the time & inclination to go into greater depth):

SunZia’s routing model would cause unacceptable adverse impacts to two of the last-remaining desert river ecosystems in the Southwest — the Rio Grande and the San Pedro.

    • The adverse ecological impacts posed by this project were unacceptable to begin with, and are growing with each stage of project development.
    • Along the San Pedro River, SunZia is currently attempting to establish road access and construction/maintenance sites in a special-designation area where they had previously pledged to minimize vehicular access: the Paige Canyon wildlife corridor in Cascabel, Arizona. The road access they are seeking passes through a Forest Legacy conservation easement. The owner of this property has expressed his unequivocal opposition to SunZia’s attempt to violate the terms of his conservation easement. But he is rightfully concerned that the terms of the easement will no longer be enforced after he passes on.
    • SunZia is now requesting federal approval for access roads all along the San Pedro River, roads that would exacerbate landscape fragmentation by their project. Further downstream and adjacent to the Oracle State Park International Dark Sky designation, SunZia is attempting to bypass any state or federal consideration of new information about lighting requirements on the project’s proposed towers and lines near San Manuel Airport.

SunZia is not the least damaging alternative available for the transmission of wind energy originating in New Mexico. 

    • Both the Southline Transmission Project and the Western Spirit Transmission Project have proven that it is neither necessary nor appropriate to grab 520 miles of remote, wildlife-supporting land in order to move New Mexico’s renewable energy to other portions of the Western Electrical Grid.

SunZia was not conceived to find a transmission route for New Mexico’s wind energy that minimizes adverse impacts. Its objectives emerged in a haphazard and opportunistic manner.

    • SunZia was conceived in 2006 to transmit electricity east and west out of Bowie, Arizona, the site for a large planned and permitted fossil-fueled plant also owned by SunZia. Its route was modified, and in 2008 the project was repackaged as a renewable-energy project following the election of President Obama.
    • One purpose of the project has remained unchanged from the start: to grab remote state and public lands for use and profit by a private corporation.

SunZia was poorly coordinated and planned, with the company’s primary efforts and attention going to lobbying for political support rather than addressing the public’s concerns about adverse environmental and economic impacts.

    • This point should be obvious. It has already taken thirteen years, three federal environmental review processes, a narrow approval of a state permit in 2016 in Arizona, the rejection of a state permit in New Mexico in 2018, and newly pending amendments in each of those two states. Some SunZia proponents blame the expenditure of so much time and money ($200 million!) on “needless red tape,” but other competing transmission projects (Southline and Western Spirit) that started later in the permitting process easily surpassed SunZia in both permit progress and in reducing the per-mile cost of planning their transmission projects.

SunZia’s transmission model would suppress the development of distributed renewable energy in the Southwest.

    • SunZia is currently in the process of attempting to sell the project’s first transmission line to Canadian-owned Pattern Energy Group LP (“Pattern”), and to help Pattern gain rights to 100% of transmission capacity on this line. If successful, Pattern would hold a vertical monopoly on both energy production and transmission for this 520-mile interstate line.
    • Local development of renewable resources should be an energy-development priority, especially in the Southwest, where renewable-energy resources are abundant. The outmoded era of central control of energy resources by utility companies should not be replaced with large-scale centralized control by private corporations. Renewable-energy development should be distributed to the highest degree possible, in order to reduce transmission distances, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the construction of new long-distance tie-lines, and promote resilience to climate change.

The U.S. must respond to climate change by transitioning to renewable energy in smart, forward-thinking ways that protect rather than harm the environment. Tell the Arizona Corporation Commission to require public evidentiary hearings for the SunZia project!


    Tucson Audubon Society
    300 E University Blvd. #120 Tucson, AZ 85705

    Mason Center
    3835 W Hardy Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85742

    Paton Center for Hummingbirds
    477 Pennsylvania Ave.
    Patagonia, AZ 85624
    520 415-6447


    Tucson Audubon Society
    300 E University Blvd. #120
    Tucson, AZ 85705

    Mason Center
    3835 W Hardy Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85742

    Paton Center for Hummingbirds
    477 Pennsylvania Ave.
    Patagonia, AZ 85624
    520 415-6447


    Tucson Audubon Society
    300 E University Blvd. #120
    Tucson, AZ 85705

    Mason Center
    3835 W Hardy Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85742

    Paton Center for Hummingbirds
    477 Pennsylvania Ave.
    Patagonia, AZ 85624
    520 415-6447

    Michael T. Bogan (he/him)

    Michael is an Assistant Professor of Aquatic biology at the University of Arizona. Originally from California, he earned his PhD at Oregon State University, where his research focused on stream ecosystems of the Madrean Sky Islands and Sonoran Desert. He is well-known for his work on Santa Cruz River Heritage Project, and his beautiful photos of dragonflies. His research topics include Arid Lands, Conservation Biology, Invasive Species and Population and Community Ecology.

    Michael serves as the faculty advisor for the UA chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, a national Diversity in STEM organization. Michael is a partner on our Santa Cruz River Heritage Project work and has contributed to the Vermilion Flycatcher in the past year.

    Michael has a hard time choosing a single favorite bird, but says that Curve-billed Thrashers are pretty hard to beat. “I could watch them goofing around through the leaf litter and be entertained for days!”


    Alberto Búrquez

    I currently work at the Instituto de Ecología, Department of Ecology of Biodiversity, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). I got my bachelor and master’s degree at UNAM, and my PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK. I do research in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Ethnoecology. Drylands ecology and societal use of resources in water-limited systems have been an ever-present passion through my life. It might be because I am a Sonoran Desert born person. However, my personal theory is that once someone experiences the desert landscapes they are smitten for life. I am passionate about bird and honorary bird species like bats and hawkmoths, particularly in their mutualist interactions with plants. My current projects include: 1) Columnar cacti: ecology, evolution, societal services. 2) Effects of extreme events on vegetation, 3) Species Distribution and Biogeography, 4) Indigenous lands and ecosystem processes, and 5) drought and freezing resistance in plants at the edges of distribution.


    Jeanne Calhoun

    Fascinated by wilderness and everything wild since growing up backpacking with her family in the Sierras, Jeanne pursued a diverse environmental career over the past 30+ years.  With a Bachelor’s in Biology (Carleton College) and a Master’s in Geology (Oregon State University), she pursued multiple aspects of environmental protection, with the last 23 years focused on ecological conservation in Arizona, working for The Nature Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the US National Park Service.  During her ten years at TNC, Jeanne was responsible for on-the-ground conservation in four ecoregions in Arizona, management of TNC’s preserve system, land management and restoration, government relations, and water policy.

    Jeanne spent seven years with the USFWS where she oversaw threatened and endangered species issues in southern Arizona. She enjoyed the challenges of dealing with controversial issues such as the international border, proposed mining projects, energy infrastructure, wilderness management and climate change.

    Most recently, she worked for Grand Canyon National Park as Chief of the Science and Resource Management Division, where she oversaw all science research as well as natural and cultural resource management activities in the park.  During her years at the Grand Canyon, Jeanne initiated the first Paleontological Resources Inventory for the park, led a Climate Change Analysis for the park’s watershed, reinitiated the effort to designate 94% of the park as Wilderness, and led publication of the Natural and Cultural Resource Condition Assessment for the park.

    Recently retired, Jeanne has a passion for water sports, hiking and exploring Arizona’s spectacular landscapes, and is learning how to play the saxophone.


    Colleen Cacy

    Colleen is a partner with the firm Gadarian and Cacy, PLLC, a Tucson law firm specializing in professional Tax Strategy, Estate Planning and Asset Protection law.

    • J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law (1986)
    • President of the Board of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council
    • Elected member, American College of Trust and Estate Council
    • Memberships: Executive Committee of the Probate and Trust Section of the State Bar, the State Bar of Arizona, the Probate and Trust and Tax Sections of the State Bar, the American Bar Association, and the Pima County Bar Association.
    • Past President of the Board of ZUZI Dance Company


    Richard Carlson

    Richard started birding as a child in Minnesota 70 years ago. After a brief interlude at Harvard, where he majored in caving, mountain climbing, winter mountaineering and economics, he began birding again in Washington DC with the Maryland Ornithological Society. He was one of Chan Robbin’s volunteers in establishing the first Breeding Bird Surveys. Bribed by the Nixon administration to leave town with a fellowship to Stanford, he moved West in 1969. He worked at Stanford Research Institute, where he co-authored “Solar Energy in America’s Future” and led field trips for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. He became President of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory and expanded his birding to Latin America. He has birded throughout the Neotropics and in Africa, Australia, Antarctica, India, China and Europe. He hopes to ultimately see at least half the birds of the world. He and his wife Pat now migrate between homes in Tucson and Lake Tahoe depending on where the birds are.


    Tricia Gerrodette

    Tricia never wound up with a career but instead had a variety of jobs and life experiences. She's been a bookkeeper, a typist, a proofreader and then a test analyst for a defense contracting company. She was a tour guide for trips into Mexico's Copper Canyon for Elderhostel (now Road Scholar). The trips focused on Mexican and railroad history as well as the history and culture of the Rarámuri (Tarahumara) natives.

    Secretary of the board for Tucson Audubon, member of the board for Friends of the San Pedro River, president of the now-defunct Huachuca Audubon Society, treasurer for Sky Island Unitarian Universalist Church, Water Sentinel with Sierra Club Water Sentinels, Steering Committee for Sustainable Water Workgroup.

    When Huachuca Audubon Society disbanded in May 2016, Cochise County became part of the "assigned" territory for Tucson Audubon Society. That was a huge amount of land, although not too many people, to absorb. I was invited to be on the Tucson Audubon board to help with that effort, and to help protect the San Pedro River. That work still continues! Photo by Mark Levy.

    Kathy Jacobs

    Kathy Jacobs is a professor of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona and Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS). CCASS is a component of the Arizona Institutes for Resilience, and builds capacity to accelerate adaptation and on-the-ground solutions to climate issues.  She is currently a member of a team that is building the Indigenous Resilience Center at the UA.  From 2010 – 2013, Jacobs worked in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House. She was director of the Third National Climate Assessment, and the lead advisor on water science, policy, and adaptation. From 2006-2009 Jacobs was Executive Director of th

    e Arizona Water Institute, a consortium of Arizona’s three universities focused on water sustainability. She worked 23 years for the Arizona

    Department of Water Resources, including 15 as the director of the Tucson Active Management Area.  She was engaged in multiple aspects of implementing Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act, including development of water conservation programs and the Assured Water Supply Rules.  Jacobs has served on nine National Academy panels; she earned her M.L.A. in environmental planning from Berkeley.


    Elisabeth (Lissie) Jaquette

    Elisabeth (Lissie) Jaquette had been an occasional birder prior to moving to Arizona in 2018. Since connecting with Tucson Audubon, she has become increasingly passionate about birding, and is excited to give back by serving on the board. Lissie first became involved with Tucson Audubon by participating in the Habitat at Home program, then by joining as a member, and more recently by volunteering with the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival, the Birdathon, and several bird surveys.

    Lissie’s education includes a BA from Swarthmore College and an MA from Columbia University. Since 2017 she has served as Executive Director for the American Literary Translators Association, a non-profit membership organization.

    When Lissie is not birding, she enjoys hiking and trail running in the Sonoran Desert, and translating literature from Arabic to English (her latest book was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Awards). She lives in Tucson with her 1-year-old son, Cassin (named for the kingbird); dog, Cooper (named for the hawk); and husband, Dan (sadly not named for any birds).


    Riana Johnson

    Riana Johnson is a skilled researcher with experience in quantitative, qualitative, and data visualization within the energy efficiency and utility industry. She brings creativity along with strong data analysis skills to her work. She uses her background in fine art and econometrics to deftly craft data visualizations and tell data-driven stories. Riana is a new birder and loves living in Tucson where the Vermillion Flycatchers are plenty. She recently started a chapter of the Feminist Bird Club in Tucson where she can mix her passion for activism, art, and birds. Riana has degrees in Political Science and Studio Art from New York University and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Arizona.


    Linda McNulty

    Linda McNultyLinda’s education includes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Rochester, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona, where she graduated Summa cum Laude and was elected to the Order of the Coif. A recently retired partner at the law firm of Lewis and Roca, LLP, Linda was a member of the firm’s Real Estate and Finance practice group. Her law practice focused primarily on commercial real estate, business and natural resources law. Linda has served a number of board roles, including: President of the Tucson chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) and member to the board of directors of the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority, the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, and the Wilderness Land Trust. Early in her career, Linda worked for the Arizona Department of Water Resources and she’s maintained a connection to water policy issues in Arizona. Linda has been a member of Tucson Audubon Society since 1976 and lives with her husband Michael in Tucson.


    R. Cynthia Pruett

    Cynthia-Pruitt-with-raffle-tickets-by-Kendall-KroesenFor a long period I was what you might call a "lapsed birder". I started birding in college with a boyfriend who became my husband and we traveled all over the United States while he was in the service; leading to a pretty comprehensive bird list. Then suddenly, other life activity got in the way and for about 25 years birding was shelved. In the late 80's I was introduced to an avid woman birder at an environmental conference and the passion came back. My work career involved many executive jobs, some of them key environmental positions, which only reinforced my understanding of the need to protect important habitat around the world. It's (the birding) led to many trips to many countries, a joy of seeing both new and revisited birds and of course, to becoming active in Audubon chapters, both here and in Virginia.


    Cynthia M. VerDuin, CPA

    Cynthia began birding when she was 10 by participating with her girl scout troop create a bird-watching badge. In the 90’s she began birding with family, friends and with bird walks in various Ohio regions. Since 2010, she has enjoyed Tucson Audubon bird walks and short trips. Beginning in 2016, she has participated in the Birding Festival, serving as a volunteer in 2017-2019 and at Meet your Birds events. She served on the Gala and Finance committees in 2016-2017, and joined the board in 2018. She now serves as Treasurer and Search Committee co-chair.

    Cynthia founded her accounting firm in 2007, focusing on not-for-profits, small companies and individuals, providing accounting, tax planning and reporting services, calling upon her Kent State University (BA degree in accounting with honors) and her experience at one of the “Big Eight” accounting firms (Arthur Andersen). Cynthia is also a Physical Therapist and commercial hot air balloon pilot, and enjoys hiking, birding, biking and swimming.