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VP Kamala Harris visits Arizona for groundbreaking of Ten West Link. So what is it?

Harris was in Tonopah alongside U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

TONOPAH, Ariz. — Vice President Kamala Harris visited Tonopah on Thursday for the groundbreaking of a new project called the Ten West Link.

The Biden administration said Ten West will be a boon to renewable energy and supply for Arizona and California.

What is Ten West?

At its simplest, the Ten West Link is a stretch of power transmission lines. 

It stretches from Blythe, California, across the border with Arizona, south of Quartzsite, then follows Interstate 10 to Tonopah, where it connects to a power substation. 

The power lines aren't special in any other way. But the Biden administration hopes that by building them, they can encourage renewable energy sources to sprout up in the desert.

What does it do?

The area from Tonopah to Blythe is sparsely populated. But in the next 50 years, hundreds of thousands of new homes are planned west of the Valley. 

California is still growing, and so are the state's power needs.

The Ten West power lines are designed to let California draw on excess power during high-demand periods. 

They're also designed to hold high electricity loads from power plants that aren't built yet, but that the White House hopes will come to the area.

According to the Department of the Interior, federal officials are considering solar, wind, and geothermal power projects across the West.

The hope is that the empty stretches of desert west of Phoenix will be attractive places for wind and solar farms. However, those power-generating plants need ways to transmit the power they generate. 

That's where the Ten West line comes in. If the infrastructure is already in place, the thinking goes, it makes the area more attractive to renewable energy.

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