The ACC concluded that TEP’s agreements to purchase energy from eight new Tucson-area solar power systems, a landfill gas generation project and a New Mexico wind farm are "an appropriate component" of its efforts to comply with state renewable energy goals.
The commission’s endorsement allows developers of the systems to proceed 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.
"These systems will dramatically expand our renewable energy assets, helping us meet or even beat our state goals while establishing TEP as a national leader in solar energy," said Paul Bonavia, Chairman, President and CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corporation (NYSE: UNS).
Solar projects with a combined capacity of 97 MW would be developed in the Tucson area under the contracts, including:
* Three solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays built with fixed, stationary panels, including systems capable of generating 35 MW, 25 MW and 5 MW;
* Two PV arrays that track the sun’s arc across the sky along a single axis, including one rated at 12 MW and another at 4 MW; and
* Three concentrating solar power systems that focus sunlight on PV material to improve energy output. One of these systems would be capable of generating 12 MW, while two others would produce up to 2 MW each.
One of the contracts would lead to the development of a new 2.2 MW biogas generator at Pima County’s Tangerine Landfill, where methane gas is produced naturally through the decomposition process. TEP already produces up to 5 MW of renewable energy from methane captured at the City of Tucson’s Los Reales Landfill.
The ACC also endorsed TEP’s agreement to purchase the output of a 50-MW wind farm that would be developed near TEP’s existing high-efficiency natural gas Luna Energy Generating Station in Deming, N.M.. The power would be delivered to Tucson through an existing transmission line already used by TEP.
"These new systems, combined with other projects already in the works, will give us access to clean, green energy from a wide variety of reasonably priced renewable generating resources," said David Hutchens, Vice President of Energy Efficiency and Resource Planning for TEP and UniSource Energy.
The proposed systems would complement two new solar power systems already planned to be built in the Tucson area by January 2012. Fotowatio Renewable Ventures is building a 25-MW single-axis tracking PV array near Marana, while Bell Independent Power Corp. (BIPC) is building a 5-MW concentrating solar power plant at the University of Arizona’s Science and Technology Park. The ACC also expressed its support for TEP’s agreements to purchase the output of both systems, which will provide enough energy to power more than 6,000 Tucson homes.
Before those systems come online, TEP will add 1.8 MW of capacity this year to its 4.6-MW Springerville Generating Station Solar System, which already is one of the largest grid-tied PV arrays in the United States. The expanded array will generate enough energy to power more than 1,000 Tucson homes. TEP also will build a 1.6-MW single axis tracking array at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park later this year.
The projects backed by the ACC on Aug. 24 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. But the capacity ultimately developed will represent a significant addition to TEP’s growing renewable energy resources. With funding provided by customers, TEP has developed nearly 10 MW of company-owned renewable energy generating capacity along with more than 17 MW of customer-sited systems subsidized by the company’s popular SunShare rebates.
The output of these systems helps TEP 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 percent of their retail energy in 2025.
Tucson Electric Power provides safe, reliable power to more than 400,000 customers in southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. For more information about UniSource Energy, TEP’s parent company, visit uns.com.