Solar Plant 2

Solar panels line Pinal Central Energy Center near Coolidge.

FLORENCE — Pinal County is working to become greener through renewable energy operations that can fuel broader economic development, officials say.

Wednesday the Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved allowing the county’s Industrial Development Authority to issue $60 million in bonds for a methane plant outside of Stanfield. The plant is to capture methane gas from manure and send the gas to Los Angeles; the manure would then be processed and converted into fertilizer at the Stanfield plant.

After the meeting, Pinal County Economic Development Manager Tim Kanavel told PinalCentral that the project doesn’t cost the county any money. Rather, the bonding authority needs to be approved by the supervisors per state statute. It results in a tax break for bond buyers and a lower interest rate for borrowers.

Supervisor Anthony Smith, R-Maricopa, whose district encompasses the plant, called the project “exciting” and said the new plant continues Pinal County toward its goal of being a “green” county.

Kanavel said earlier at a meeting in Arizona City that renewable energy can be a major selling point for potential manufacturing companies because those companies are sustainable and will not leave as easily as retail companies.

“We’re trying to become the greenest energy producing county in the state,” Kanavel said. “Right now with what we have planned and what we have in operation, we have over 3,000 acres of solar. We’ve already got the ethanol plant (Maricopa), we’ve got the bio gas (Stanfield) and these solar facilities.”

Smith added that many companies nationally are looking for green locations.

“If we’re more greener of a county,” Smith said, “the more attractive we look, in addition to having a quality of life with places to go and things to do, and all those other things that attract families and businesses.”