A large solar field near Green Valley off of Pima Mine Road, scheduled to come online in December, will grow Tucson Electric Power’s significant renewable energy portfolio.
The Avalon project is scheduled in two phases: Phase 1 will be the completion of a 35-megawatt solar field and interconnection to the grid this month, and phase 2 will be a 21-megawatt expansion scheduled for completion in late 2015.
When fully built-out, the Avalon solar site will be the largest operation of its kind (56 megawatts) in the TEP service territory. Thus far, the project has created approximately 300 construction jobs.
Avalon, located on 500 acres of land, utilizes a single-axis tracker system to maximize power generation. The site was chosen based on its compliance with an Environmental Protection Agency program to construct renewable energy projects on abandoned land.
The southern location of Avalon is important for TEP’s solar portfolio. By design, TEP’s solar sites are spread out across the service territory, which spans about 1,000 square miles.
“By spreading solar sites out over our service territory, we can produce electricity from one solar site even though another may be experiencing inclement weather,” said Jeff Krauss, TEP’s Manager of Utility Scale Renewables Portfolio.
Clenera, a renewable energy developer, leased the land from Asarco, developed the site and will sell the power from the solar array to TEP. After a number of years, TEP will have the option to purchase the solar array.
By the end of 2014, TEP expects to have more than 340 megawatts of total renewable generating capacity – enough to meet the electric needs of more than 71,000 homes.