TEP Unveils Plans for Giant Photovoltaic Array and New Solar Power Plant

The systems, including a new 25-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) array and a 5-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, are expected to be completed by January 2012. TEP has agreed to purchase power from both systems, which will be privately owned and operated.

"These new systems will exponentially expand our community’s solar energy resources, helping us reduce our use of fossil fuels while taking a significant step toward achieving our renewable energy goals," said Paul Bonavia, Chairman, President and CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy (NYSE: UNS).

The 25 MW PV array, which will be owned and operated by the global solar company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, will feature ground-mounted solar panels that rotate along a single axis to track the sun’s movement through the sky, increasing the system’s energy output. The array is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 4,600 typical Tucson homes while avoiding the production of more than 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

"We’re delighted to be working with Tucson Electric Power," said Matt Cheney, CEO of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures. "Tucson Electric Power is recognized as a worldwide leader in solar energy development. It’s a visionary utility that’s developing a cost-effective, diversified energy portfolio that demonstrates a strong commitment to the environment. We look forward to working with TEP and the Tucson community on the development of this significant solar power system."

The 25-MW array will be nearly twice as large as a 14-MW system at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base that currently ranks as the nation’s largest solar power system. TEP’s 4.6-MW PV array in Springerville currently ranks as Arizona’s largest solar array, while the largest local system is a TEP-subsidized 750-kilowatt array at Global Solar Energy, a manufacturer of thin-film PV material. The systems at Nellis Air Force Base and Global Solar Energy are also owned and operated by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures.

The other solar project announced today, the 5-MW CSP plant, will be the first system of its kind in the Tucson area. The facility 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.