The city of Tucson Water Department, Tucson, Ariz. and SunPower Corp. announced that, with assistance from the Trico Electric SunWatts renewable energy program, SunPower will design and construct a 1-megawatt, ground-mounted solar power system on city-owned, former agricultural land located within Tucson Water Department's underground water storage and recovery facility, approximately 20 miles west of downtown Tucson. The system is expected to be complete in March 2011, and will double the solar power system capacity hosted by the city.
"With SunPower's experience and proven technology, we are confident that this system will maximize the amount of sunlight converted to electricity," stated Director of Tucson Water Jeff Biggs.
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, one of the most passionate supporters of solar energy in Congress, welcomed the announcement.
"Tucson's commitment to solar energy should be a source of tremendous pride for every Arizonan," Giffords said. "With this project, solar energy production hosted by my hometown will double, and that will help keep costs low for consumers by locking in stable electricity costs for years to come. This high efficiency project is a smart investment in our future."
SunPower was selected by the city through a competitive process and has entered into a power purchase agreement with the city of Tucson to finance this project. Under the terms of the agreement, Wells Fargo will finance and own the system that SunPower designs, builds, operates and maintains. Trico Electric, the utility serving the site, will provide additional funding via its SunWatts renewable energy incentive program. The city will host the system and buy the electricity produced by it. Trico Electric Cooperative will purchase the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the system. The city's cost for the solar energy will be competitive with its current bulk retail rate, providing renewable energy with no initial capital investment.
"This system will be reliably producing clean energy for years to come," said Jim Pape, president of SunPower's residential and commercial business group. "Tucson is leading the way in Arizona by seizing this opportunity to help meet the state's growing energy demand and renewable energy goals."
On the 10-acre site, SunPower will install a SunPower Tracker® system. The Tracker positions solar panels to follow the sun's movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.
The project site is part of the city's Central Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project (CAVSARP), a short and long-term water storage and recovery operation, utilizing water from the Central Arizona Project aqueduct and providing city residents with a renewable source of potable water.