International President Kenny Cooper signed the agreement with executives of Quanta Services and Pattern Energy in Austin on December 11.

The IBEW signed a project labor agreement Dec. 11 to build a $1.3 billion, 580-mile transmission line in New Mexico and Arizona.

Cooper was joined by Outside Business Development International Representative Tiler Eaton (fifth from left) retired Special Assistant to the International President for Construction and Maintenance Jerry Westerholm (sixth from left) Outside Business Development International Representative George Arhos (eightth from left) Eighth District International Vice President Jerry Bellah (sixth from right) and Seventh District International Vice President Chris Wagner (fifth from right)

Members from Phoenix Local 769 and Albuquerque, N.M., Local 611 are already at work on the high-voltage DC transmission project.

At the project’s peak, hundreds of members will connect the largest renewable energy project in North American history — Pattern Energy’s 3.5-gigawatt Sun Zia wind project — to the booming economic centers across the Southwest and California.

“The men and women of the IBEW are proud to partner with Pattern Energy and Quanta Services Inc. on this historic energy infrastructure project,” said International President Kenneth W. Cooper. “SunZia won’t just slash carbon emissions, but create good, middle-class jobs throughout the region, and this transmission PLA guarantees that.” 

The $5 billion Sun Zia project will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and produce enough clean power for more than 3 million homes, developer Pattern Energy said.

The power will come from more than 900 turbines, two HVDC converter stations, 10 substations, multiple operations and maintenance facilities, and more than 100 miles of wind generation transmission lines.

Though the Sun Zia project has been on paper for more than a decade, shovels are in the dirt now in part because of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, signed in 2021 by President Joe Biden.

“The IBEW leads the way in recruiting and training the highly skilled workforce needed to build out a clean energy infrastructure and a resilient and modern grid,” Cooper said.