Project Focus: Arizona regulators approve Tucson Electric plans for 97MW of PV power plants

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Tucson Electric Power’s plans to add 97MW of solar PV power plants in its service area have been approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission state regulatory group. In addition to eight new PV systems, the ruling also supports the construction of a landfill gas generation project and New Mexico wind farm as “an appropriate component” of its efforts to comply with state renewable energy goals.

The commission’s endorsement permits project developers to move forward with efforts to finalize financing, secure land rights, and clear other necessary hurdles in hopes of completing their projects in time to begin providing power in 2011 or 2012.

The eight proposed PV systems (discussed in more detail in a PV-Tech blog earlier this year) include a 35MW fixed ground-mount farm from Avalon, a 25MW installation from NRG, a 12MW concentrator PV system from Amonix, a pair of 2MW CPV arrays from Amonix and Emcore, a 5MW fixed array from CTC, and a pair of stationary ground-mounted projects, of 12MW and 4MW, from FSP.  

TEP (a unit of UniSource Energy) said that the proposed systems would complement two new solar power units already slated to be operational in the Tucson area by January 2012.

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures is building a 25MW single-axis tracking PV array near Marana, while Bell Independent Power is building a 5MW concentrating solar power plant at the University of Arizona’s Science and Technology Park.

The ACC also ruled to support TEP’s agreements to purchase the output of both systems—enough for more than 6000 Tucson area homes.

Before those two systems come online, TEP will add 1.8MW of capacity this year to its 4.6MW Springerville Generating Station Solar System. The utility also plans to build a 1.6MW single-axis tracking PV array at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park later this year.

The approved projects are in the planning stages, and some of them may not be built if the developers are unable to arrange financing or clear other necessary hurdles, the utility noted, adding that the capacity ultimately developed will represent a significant addition to TEP’s growing renewable energy resources.

TEP said that the output of these systems helps it pursue renewable energy goals established by the ACC through the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES). The rules call on TEP and other Arizona utilities to increase their use of renewable power each year until it represents 15% of their retail energy in 2025.

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