The solar power plant was made possible through a solar services agreement between Pima County and SunEdison that required no upfront costs from the County, and which the County estimates will save it between $1.2 to $2 million over the 20-year contract term (based on projected conventional energy price increases of between 2.4 to 4 percent a year).
The Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a Sustainability Resolution in May 2007, which calls for the County to meet 15% of its energy needs using renewable resources by 2025. The 1MW solar power plant will allow Pima County to use the solar energy produced to offset its demand for conventional grid electricity. The solar power plant is expected to produce over 2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually and more than 40 million (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years. That is enough energy to power more than 3,700 average U.S. homes for one year.
"Creating a sustainable community requires a commitment to wise resource conservation and stewardship. At Pima County, this commitment extends to the way in which we generate and use energy," said Ramon Valadez, Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. "We are dedicated to increasing the use of clean, renewable energy in County government operations, while at the same time becoming more energy-efficient by constructing County buildings to meet national green building standards, retrofitting existing buildings with energy upgrades, reducing water use, and increasing the number of hybrid and electric vehicles in our fleet."
Under the solar services agreement between Pima County and SunEdison, Pima County will purchase the energy produced from the 1MW solar deployment from SunEdison at predictable energy rates for 20 years. SunEdison is responsible for the financing and ownership of the system and will work closely with Tucson-based SOLON Corporation, who will operate and maintain the system under contract with SunEdison. SOLON Corporation also designed and constructed the power plant utilizing SOLON modules and single-axis tracking technology.
"We commend the Pima County officials and all project partners on this milestone initiative at Roger Road," said Dan Alcombright, Regional Vice President and General Manager of North America, SOLON Corporation. "All involved committed to streamlining the renewable energy effort to bring this project to completion. We are pleased to have been part of this project and to help bring quality solar power installations to our local community."
"The activation of this 1MW deployment is a testament to SunEdison’s strong financing capabilities and solid partnerships that allow us to provide solar solutions for government entities throughout the world," said Rick Gilliam, Vice President of Government Affairs for SunEdison. "We are delighted to be working with Pima County in helping them reach their sustainability goals."
The environmental attributes associated with the system will offset more than 47 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the initial 20 years of operation – the equivalent of taking 4,600 cars off the road for one year. The solar power plant is also anticipated to displace the use of between 1.1 and 1.6 million gallons of water per year; this is the amount of water that would be lost to evaporation during the "wet cooling" process involved in conventional electrical generation.
Pima County covers 9,184 square miles (an area larger than the state of New Jersey) in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. It includes the metropolitan area of Tucson, Arizona, the towns of Marana, Sahuarita and Oro Valley, small unincorporated rural communities, and the reservations of the Tohono O’Odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Today the County is home to just over 1 million residents, who enjoy the area’s picturesque beauty, year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, affordable cost of living, economic opportunities, and rich cultural heritage.
SunEdison is North America’s largest solar energy services provider. The company finances, installs and operates distributed power plants using proven photovoltaic technologies, delivering fully managed, predictably priced solar energy services for its commercial, government and utility customers.
MEMC is a global leader in the manufacture and sale of wafers and related intermediate products to the semiconductor and solar industries. MEMC has been a pioneer in the design and development of wafer technologies over the past 50 years. With R&D and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia, MEMC enables the next generation of high performance semiconductor devices and solar cells. With the acquisition of SunEdison, MEMC is now a developer of solar power projects and North America’s largest solar energy services provider. MEMC’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "WFR" and is included in the S&P 500 Index.
SOLON Corporation, a subsidiary of SOLON SE and part of SOLON Group, was founded in 2007 as part of SOLON’s initiative to develop the North American market. The subsidiary has built its own production facilities in Tucson, Arizona with a capacity of over 100MWp, where it manufactures UL-certified solar modules for the N.A. market. The SOLON Group’s core business is the manufacture of solar modules in various performance categories and the construction of turnkey solar power plants. The SOLON Group employs 900 people worldwide and has subsidiaries in Germany, Austria, Italy, the U.S. and Switzerland.