Arizona Congress members cross party lines to collaborate on bills

Mar 10, 2023, 8:00 PM
(Getty Images)...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona members of Congress on both sides of the aisle in Washington D.C. introduced and supported two bills related to hydropower and a potential new national park in the Grand Canyon State.

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly introduced legislation that would allow for the exploration of pumped-storage hydropower facilities in the Salt River reservoir system. Pumped hydropower storage can retain power and then release it when electricity demand and prices are high.

Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Rep. David Schweikert supported the bill.

“I’m glad to lead this bipartisan legislation for Arizona, which will pave the way for more affordable and reliable energy and boost energy storage,” Kelly said in a press release.

“An all-of-the-above energy strategy is essential to meeting Arizona’s growing economic and household consumption demands,” Schweikert said in the release. “We need a wide range of domestic technologies to ensure grid reliability and find ways to harness a diverse energy portfolio which isn’t overly reliant on foreign supply chains.”

The pumped storage stations generate power by moving water between reservoirs at different elevations. Water is pumped into the upper reservoir during times of low energy demand and released through turbines downhill in times of high demand, according to the National Hydropower Association.

Salt River Project CEO and General Manager Mike Hummel explained that the hydropower storage units would store renewable energy during the day and provide it at night.

“In addition to more than 800 megawatts of four-hour battery storage SRP will have online by 2026, pumped storage will further diversify SRP’s capabilities, providing 10 to 12 hours of needed energy storage,” Hummel said in the release.

The second bill, the Chiricahua National Park Act, was re-introduced by Kelly and co-sponsored by Sinema in the Senate and introduced by Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani in the House.

The bill would establish the Chiricahua National Monument as  the fourth national park in Arizona along with Grand Canyon, Saguaro and Petrified Forest national parks.

The monument is located in Cochise County near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

“Our bipartisan legislation to designate Chiricahua National Monument as a national park would further promote conservation, boost tourism and create economic opportunities in Southern Arizona,” Kelly said in a press release.

“Chiricahua National Monument has long been a beloved landmark in Southern Arizona,” Ciscomani said in the release. “These unique formations draw visitors from across the nation and around the world to our state, and this tourism is an important part of our regional economy.”

A volcanic eruption 27 million years ago left a garden on rock spires and formations that present a unique environment.

It was protected in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.

Kelly initially sponsored the bill in April 2021. It passed unanimously in the Senate but not in the House.

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Arizona Congress members cross party lines to collaborate on bills