VP Kamala Harris speaks at Tonopah clean energy groundbreaking

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Arizona on Jan. 19 where she highlighted federal efforts to create a "clean energy economy."

Harris visited Tonopah for the groundbreaking of the Ten West Link Transmission Line, an energy infrastructure project intended to connect power grids in Arizona and California. 

"This electricity will be clean electricity, solar panels and wind turbines do not produce toxic fumes that poison our air or dangerous chemicals that poison our water and the energy delivered by

"The new 500kV power line will improve transmission system efficiency and reliability while facilitating the development of new renewable energy and energy storage resources in Arizona and California," reads a statement from the project's website.

"This electricity will be clean electricity," said VP Harris. "Solar panels and wind turbines do not produce toxic fumes that poison our air, or dangerous chemicals that poison our water, and the energy delivered by these lines will not just be cleaner, it will also be cheaper, and all of this also creates jobs."

The Dept. of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management approved the project back in November 2019 and authorized construction in July 2022.

The Vice President was joined by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Gov. Katie Hobbs also joined VP Harris.

VP Harris' visit comes comes as President Joe Biden wants to move the nation toward more renewable energy, which requires thousands of miles of new transmission lines to get power from vacant land where solar, wind, or geothermal energy can be harnessed, making Arizona a perfect spot. The president’s goal is to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

"New and upgraded transmission lines will also help make sure communities have enough power to meet peak demand, which will increase energy reliability, which means it will help prevent against that one bad storm or wildfire that knocks out the lights. That’s fewer blackouts, fewer summer nights without the AC."

Tonopah is about 50 miles west of Phoenix.

Not all are happy with VP's visit

 Not everyone welcomed VP Harris' visit to Arizona. Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels says he wants the VP to turn her energy towards the southern border.

"You come to a border state where you have border community needs," said Sheriff Dannels. "We are addressing border issues every day, the tragedies of it, the sadness of it, and we can’t get our Vice President to even acknowledge it while she is in our state, or while she is in Washington D.C."

President Biden appointed Harris his ‘Border Czar’ in 2021, but she has not spent any time at the U.S.-Mexico Border in Arizona.

"It's frustrating, because it's insulting for all of us that where a badge, our community folks that live in America, and our Border Patrol agents we work side by side with," said Sheriff Dannels. "We won't give up hope. We will stand united on what we have to do here, but again, I will continue to hope that this administration will engage with us, to include [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas."

VP Harris' last visit to Arizona was in February 2021, when she visited a COVID-19 vaccination site. The President, meanwhile, toured a microchip plant under construction in Arizona in December 2022. He also avoided the topic of the border.

Meanwhile, both of Arizona's Senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, led a border tour in Yuma, looking for solutions to fix the border crisis.

President Biden did visit a portion of the U.S. Border with Mexico in Texas on Jan. 8.

More Arizona headlines

Image 1 of 2

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a clean energy groundbreaking ceremony in Tonopah on Jan. 19.