December 26, 2013
APS increases solar capacity for customers, adding approximately 410 megawatts in 2013
PHOENIX – Arizona’s national solar energy leadership is growing stronger in December with four new large-scale solar photovoltaic plants beginning production for APS, the company announced Thursday.
The facilities, located in western Arizona, have a combined generating capacity of 62 megawatts, enough electricity to power 15,500 APS customers.
The plant openings cap a record year for APS, which added approximately 410 megawatts of large-scale and customer-owned solar capacity to its generating portfolio. This represents the company’s largest annual increase in solar capacity and nearly triples the total brought online in 2012, when it added nearly 150 megawatts of capacity.
Overall, APS has spent nearly $1 billion on solar projects across the state and now utilizes 750 megawatts of solar capacity on its system, enough to serve the energy needs of 185,000 APS customers.
“More Arizonans than ever before are benefitting from solar energy with the opening of these four large-scale solar power plants,” said Don Brandt, APS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This year’s extraordinary growth more than doubled our total solar generation portfolio and heightens the state’s reputation as a solar energy leader.”
Two plants are APS-owned and operated as part of the company’s AZ Sun Program for large-scale solar energy facilities. APS is acquiring electricity from the other two plants, developed by independent operators, through long-term power purchase agreements.
Following are details about each facility:
Foothills Phase II (18 MW) – This phase completes the largest AZ Sun Program project, with 35 megawatts total capacity. The initial phase of the 398-acre facility near Yuma came online in Q1 2013. Foothills uses more than 150,000 photovoltaic panels on a single-axis tracking system, which moves panels to follow the sun’s path and optimize energy production, to generate enough energy for 8,750 customers. APS owns and operates the plant, built by Atlanta-based AMEC.
Foothills is the first solar plant built on Arizona State Trust land. APS has a 35-year lease on the land, at a cost of $10.9 million. The proceeds from land sales and leases of State Trust land go to the beneficiaries of the State Land Trust, primarily grades K-12 public schools.
Hyder II (14 MW) – Located on 240 acres in eastern Yuma County, Hyder II is an AZ Sun Program project generating energy with more than 71,000 single-axis tracking photovoltaic panels, enough to serve 3,500 homes. APS owns and operates the plant, built by McCarthy Building Companies.
Badger (15 MW) – A 183-acre project near Tonopah, Badger can power 3,750 homes using nearly 65,000 photovoltaic panels installed on a single-axis tracking system. APS has a power purchase agreement with plant owner PSEG Solar Source LLC of Newark, N.J. The plant was constructed and is managed by juwi solar Inc., based in Boulder, Colo.
Gillespie (15 MW) – The 157-acre project is located near Arlington in the Gillespie Solar Energy Zone, administered by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. The facility includes more than 70,000 single-axis tracker photovoltaic panels, enough to power 3,750 homes. APS has entered a power purchase agreement with plant developer and owner RE Gillespie 1 LLC of San Francisco.
“These plants demonstrate APS’s continuing commitment to drive energy innovation for our customers, create valuable jobs for Arizona’s economy and propel our state’s growth as the solar capital of America,” Brandt said.
The AZ Sun Program was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission and has enabled APS to invest in the development of large-scale solar power plants across Arizona, with a planned capacity of 200 megawatts. Six AZ Sun projects have been completed so far. Another facility is under construction, and two more were recently approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission to begin construction in 2014.
The largest contributor to APS’s increased capacity this year is the Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend. One of the largest solar thermal power plants in the world, Solana has a capacity of 250 megawatts and began commercial production in October.