ORACLE – As the sun shines on Oracle State Park Wednesday afternoon, longtime Oracle resident, Michael Carroll, sees something new taking shape in the landscape.
“This is kind of the center of our new economic engine here,” Carroll said. “The future of our economy is in our ecology.”
But Carroll worries a proposed energy project would infringe upon this community.
Tom Wray is with Sunzia, the company that wants to bring two massive high voltage power lines to Oracle as part of a renewable energy project that includes a wind farm in New Mexico.
The transmission line in Arizona and New Mexico is 520 miles.
The FAA requires those towers to be built out of the airspace and with lights to make sure pilots and planes stay safe.
“It’s a non-flashing, low-level red light that would be utilized to mark the towers,” Wray said.
The Arizona Corporation Commission okayed the proposal but Carroll and others who live among the beauty every day are concerned because Oracle is a prime spot for stargazers.
“At the night time they’re going to see these lights on top of all those towers and how is that going to impact people wanting to come up here from a tourism standpoint?” Mike Weasner said.
“People are coming here from all over to look at the stars,” Carroll said. “But if they come here and see big glow-in-the-dark towers with flashing lights on them 24-7/365, I can’t imagine what that’s going to do to our economic future. Suddenly, we become no longer the pristine eco-tourism spot people are looking for.”
While the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the project, the New Mexico Commission unanimously rejected it.
Sunzia said it will not go forward without the green light from New Mexico.