"Going green" has never been easier thanks to TEP's Bright Tucson Community Solar program, which offers an easy, affordable way to tap into sun power by essentially sharing a solar array with the rest of our community.
The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) recently recognized the program with its award for Utility Innovation in Solar Program Design. SEPA is a Washington D.C.-based trade group with more than 1,000 utility and solar industry members nationwide.
The program's first two large photovoltaic (PV) arrays produce about 4 megawatts in the Solar Zone at the University of Arizona's Science and Technology Park in southeast Tucson.
Pictured above is a 2 megawatt system by Amonix, one of several companies developing privately owned, utility-scale projects to serve TEP customers. The Solar Zone also includes a 1.6-megawatt (MW) tracking array developed for TEP by Tucson-based SOLON Corp. The system incorporates 11 single axis trackers, utilizing 5,808 275-watt high-efficiency solar modules manufactured at SOLON's Tucson facility.
Future planned projects at the UATechPark include a 4 MW tracking PV array, a 5 MW fixed PV array and a 5 MW concentrating solar thermal plant with integrated storage. The Solar Zone is designed to foster collaboration among solar industry, research and demonstration projects on a single 200-acre site.
Across Southern Arizona, TEP also plans to purchase the output of 10 utility-scale solar power systems in development. Those systems, which range in size from 2 MW to 35 MW, would combine with TEP's company owned resources to create more than 160 MW of combined solar generating capacity by the end of 2014. That's enough power to serve more than 25,000 Tucson homes.
In the meantime, TEP customers can purchase $3 "blocks" of solar power that are added to their monthly bills. TEP customers can purchase some or all of their energy through the Bright Tucson program, reducing or eliminating their use of conventional power for an affordable price.