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Industry News

Arizona Corporation Commission Votes to Support TEP's Solar Projects

LCG, April 7, 2010--Tucson Electric Power (TEP) announced Friday that the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Thursday expressed its support for TEP's proposal to add over 33 MW of solar generating capacity through power purchase agreements (PPAs) and new company-owned facilities. TEP had requested the ACC to review its plan to purchase energy from a new 25-MW photovoltaic (PV) array and a 5-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, both of which are expected to be completed by January 2012.

The ACC concluded that the PPAs and TEP's proposal to build 3.4 MW of new, company-owned PV systems this year were "an appropriate component" of its efforts to comply with Arizona's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which sets a target for utilities of using renewable power to meet 15 percent of the electricity demand of their customers in 2025.

TEP plans to purchase power from a 25-MW PV array located northwest of Tucson on a 305-acre site leased from Tucson Water. The solar farm will include ground-mounted, single axis tracking (SAT) systems with PV panels that rotate to follow the sun. The facility will be owned and operated by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures.

The other power purchase agreement will be with Bell Independent Power Corp. (BIPC), which will own and operate a 5-MW concentrated solar power (CSP) facility located at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park. This system will use rows of parabolic troughs and a heat-transfer and storage system to create pressurized vapor that will be used to drive a turbine. The proprietary thermal storage system is designed to store the sun?s heat for several hours, allowing the CSP plant to generate power when cloudy or after the sun sets, when electric load can remain high.

ACC Chairwoman Kris Mayes said, "The development of these local renewable resources is exactly what the Arizona Corporation Commission hoped to encourage through the Renewable Energy Standard."

This year TEP has additional plans for solar PV installations. TEP will add 1.8 MW of solar capacity to its 4.6-MW Springerville Generating Station Solar System and build a 1.6-MW single axis tracking array in the Tucson area to support its Bright Tucson Community Solar program, whereby customers may purchase 150 kilowatt-hour (kWh) "blocks" of solar energy from local solar arrays. Each block of energy purchased through the program would add about $3 to monthly bills.

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