Tucson Electric Power (TEP), in collaboration with Solon, has completed a 1.6MW solar power plant in Tucson, Arizona. Located at the University of Arizona’s Science and Technology Park, Solon oversaw the engineering, procurement and construction services for the installation. Built over 14 acres and featuring Solon’s Velocity MW Solar System with 11 single-axis trackers and 5,808 275W high-efficiency solar modules, the solar project will produce around 3 million kWh of energy in its first year and around 60 million kWh over the next 20 years.

The solar array is TEP’s largest local solar resource, which offers the opportunity for its energy output to be sold directly to customers through TEP’s Bright Tucson Community Solar program. On February 1, the solar system will become available for customers to buy 150kWh blocks that will add US$3 apiece to monthly bills. TEP customers will have the choice to buy some or all of their energy through the program.

“This system is the first of more than a dozen local solar projects that will be built over the next few years to help us take full advantage of southern Arizona’s most abundant renewable energy resource,” said Paul Bonavia, chairman, president and CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy.

Initially the installation will generate enough power to produce 1,600 blocks for TEP customers to purchase. As TEP increases its local solar generating resources, more blocks will become available. TEP is looking to invest US$28 million this year in the additional solar power systems and over the next three years plans to have a total new capacity of 28MW.

“Anyone who wants to power their home or business with solar energy can simply stake their claim on the output of this new, local solar power system,” Bonavia said. “While investing in your own rooftop PV system is still a great option, the Bright Tucson Community Solar program offers an easy, affordable way to go green by essentially sharing a solar array with the rest of our community.”

Over time, TEP will add five other solar power systems in the Solar Zone including two 2MW concentrating PV systems, a 4MW tracking PV array, a 5MW fixed PV array and a 5MW concentrating solar thermal plant with integrated storage.

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