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Some Marana residents concerned over new TEP substation planned next to their homes

Marana residents concerned about new TEP substation planned next to their homes
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jun 06, 2024

MARANA, Ariz. (KGUN) — Some Marana residents are left feeling unheard after the Marana Town Council recently approved the rezoning of roughly 20 acres in North Marana for a new Tucson Electric Power substation.

The land is located half a mile west of the intersection of Grier Road and Wentz Road. It was rezoned from Zone A — which is typically for residential use to Neighborhood Commercial.

The plot of newly rezoned land sits directly behind several homes in the North Marana neighborhood.

Since February of this year, residents of the neighborhood have participated in public hearings to voice their concerns, which include:

  • Decreased property value
  • Health risks
  • Noise
  • Disruption of views

10-year-old Zayden Shepherd is one of the residents who has been voicing his concerns. He said, “We all love the peace and quiet, we all love the sunrise, we don’t want to have a big substation in our backyard.”
According to TEP, a new substation is needed to accommodate the town’s growth.

Jason Angell, who is the Director Of Development Services For The Town Of Marana said, “They’ve (TEP) told us probably the last couple years that they were looking at sites and that they were getting near capacity and if they didn’t have a site, they would eventually have to say, ‘we can’t provide power in these areas'.”

TEP Spokesperson Joseph Barrios said they identified the need for this in the 2000s. According to TEP, the Grier site is the eleventh proposed site and is the only one that met their needs while having a willing seller.

The seller of the land is Cortaro Farms LTD. Neighborhood resident Linda Shepherd said, “Whatever little money was made from that land… it's going to be long gone, but we’re going to be forever affected by this.”

Neighbors also question why this has to be done right behind their homes.

“Most of us wouldn’t care if it was across the road, just a little down the road,” Jerry Peters said.

“We are simply trying to satisfy the needs of our customers that actually live and work in that area,” Barrios said, “It is a challenge finding a site that’s truly suitable to house a substation that will satisfy those customers’ future needs.”

According to the residents living directly next to the planned substation, TEP is not their provider; Trico Electric Coop is their provider.

In order to address some concerns, Barrios said, “There will be a 12-foot decorative wall that will help eliminate any safety concerns, it’ll help reduce noise levels and of course we’re subject to any noise ordinances that the town might have.”

However, Sandy McElhannon says the 12-foot wall will disrupt her views. She said, “We sit out here and we built this gazebo to face the beautiful mountains, the Tortolitas, the Catalinas, we’re not going to have that anymore.”

The decision to rezone the land was approved 4-2 by the Marana Town Council on May 21. Mayor Ed Honea, Council Member Herb Kai, Council Member Jackie Craig, and Council Member John Officer voted in favor of rezoning the land. Council Member Patti Comerford and Council Member Roxanne Ziegler voted against it. Vice Mayor Jon Post said he had a conflict of interest and recused himself. We reached out to him for comment, but have not heard back yet.

According to Barrios, early next year TEP will go through the public process to try to secure permission from the Arizona Corporation Commission to build a connection between the planned substation and transmission line.

Madison Thomas joined KGUN 9 in July of 2023 as a multimedia journalist. She graduated from Arizona State University in May of 2023 with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She has lived in Arizona her entire life and grew up in Douglas. Madison is thrilled to share the stories from the community she grew up in. Share your story ideas and important issues with Madison by emailing or by connecting on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.