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PHOENIX-Construction will begin in January on a $250-million power plant that could allow for the development of 300,000 more homes and hundreds of new commercial real estate projects in the metropolitan area.The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved zoning for the Arlington Valley plant, which will be built on 320 acres at the 387th Avenue and Elliot Road in the far West Valley, about 50 miles west of Downtown Phoenix. The natural-gas-fired plant could supply enough electricity, when completed in 2002, to run 300,000 homes and countless businesses.The Arlington Valley plant is being built in the area of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, which supplies power to much of Phoenix and the surrounding area. More than half a dozen new power plants are underway in Arizona, gearing up to supply cheaper electricity in a deregulated electricity market that is emerging in California and Arizona.”We all will be competing for the market,” says Max Shilstone, a manager with Duke Energy, which is building the new plant. “That enables the customers to get the best price.”Arizona should avoid any soaring rates under deregulation, like what California has experienced this summer. While California has built virtually no new generating capacity in 20 years, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has kept up with Arizona’s demand and the new plants will help to meet new demand brought by continued growth.

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