Arizona Public Service Company’s drive to develop more solar energy took another step forward with the announcement of an 18-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant to be located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix in Gila Bend.
The plant will be owned by APS and sited in the town’s new Solar Overlay Zone. The municipality has designated a geographic area as a fast-track permitting district for new solar photovoltaic projects. Permitting in this area will take less than three months, instead of the typical one to two years. By locating the new project within the boundaries of the Solar Zone, construction can begin in early 2011 with a completion date in November 2011.
“This project enables APS to continue building its renewable energy portfolio and helps us develop Arizona’s vast solar resources,” said APS President and Chief Operating Officer Don Robinson. “Our customers will benefit for years to come from this partnership between APS, SOLON and Gila Bend.”
The plant will sit on 145 acres currently used for agriculture. The 75,000 solar panels needed to transform sunlight into electricity will be arranged in 1,566 rows connected to 108 single-axis trackers. This design enables the solar panels to follow the sun across the sky, making the plant more efficient than static-mounted panels typically seen on rooftops. On sunny days, the project is expected to produce enough energy to meet the needs of 4,500 residential customers.
“SOLON is proud to partner with APS and thrilled to provide the total system solution for this landmark project—from SOLON trackers and modules to our site development, system design and construction. The Gila Bend system showcases our truly comprehensive offering that will bring clean, renewable energy throughout the state,” said Dan Alcombright, regional vice president and general manager of North America, SOLON Corporation.
Energy from the solar plant will go toward meeting the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Renewable Energy Standard. The plant will be connected to the electric grid at the Cotton Center Substation, located less than a mile from the solar project.
APS currently provides its customers more than 250 megawatts of renewable energy, generated by a variety of resources including wind, geothermal, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, biomass and biogas. Together, they produce enough energy to serve 63,000 customers.
In addition, APS has several other projects in development including the recently announced 15-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant to be sited at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz. APS also has announced the 99-megawatt Perrin Ranch Wind Energy Center in northern Arizona and a 280-megawatt solar thermal plant to be built outside of Gila Bend.