Arizona’s largest solar project is now in operation

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Two years in the making, Arizona’s largest commercial-scale solar power project has been completed.

Located in Pinal County, the 20MW project sits on 144 acres and began operation earlier this year. Iberdrola Renewables will own and operate the facility with Salt River Project (SRP) purchasing the entire output of the plant under a 25 year agreement.

Congressman Raul Grijalva, joined state and local officials and energy industrial leaders to celebrate the opening of the plant. “Smart development of solar power is the future of Arizona, and this project is a great step forward for the economy and the environment of southern Arizona”. Congressman Grijalva continued: “The success of this project will help build the viability of good solar development all over our state. When we create jobs, build our tax base, reduce emissions and provide clean power to thousands of homes, it’s some of the best news I can share as a Congressman and that’s why I’m so happy to be part of this announcement today.”

The project, which is expected to provide enough clean energy to power 3,700 homes each year, is Iberdrola’s first completed solar project in the US and adds to a portfolio of nearly 5,000MW of renewables across the country.

“We are proud to partner with Iberdrola Renewables once again to offer our customers another renewable, clean source of energy,” said SRP general manager Mark Bonsall.

Last month at Solar Power International in Dallas, SRP won an award in Solar Program Design, in partnership with Tucson Electric Power for its Community Solar program through which more than 100 schools in 11 Valley school districts are tapping into the power of the sun from the plant to offset a portion of their electric needs. Last year SRP, in partnership with Tessera Solar, won Solar Partner of the Year.

The program, which is also open to residential customers, allows customers to invest in solar energy without the upfront costs or maintenance of a rooftop system. School districts and residential customers will pay a set price for 10 and five years, respectively.

The energy delivered from the plant will support SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio. The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20% of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.  Currently, SRP is ahead of schedule providing a little more than 9% of retail energy needs with sustainable resources, which include renewable energy, hydro power, conservation, efficiency and pricing measures.

“It is with great pride that we debut our first solar power project in the United States,” said Martin Mugica, the executive vice president for Iberdrola Renewables. “Solar power is growing rapidly because it can be developed economically almost anywhere across the country, and because customers want it. Copper Crossing is a perfect example of the bright future for solar. It is a world-class project that taps the solar resource of Arizona, partners with a strong customer like SRP, and features proven technology.”

The facility was designed and built by California-based SunPower, in conjunction with Fluor and will feature more than 66,000 of SunPower's T0 Tracker system and E19 solar panels.

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