Tucson Electric Power joined military and federal officials on Feb. 11 to dedicate a large solar array at Fort Huachuca that will help the U.S. Army achieve its renewable energy and energy security goals.
The 17.2 megawatt (MW) array, completed in December, produces enough power to satisfy one-quarter of the base’s energy needs, equivalent to the annual electric usage of about 3,000 homes. The system will offset approximately 58,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year while reducing other emissions associated with generating an equivalent amount of power with fossil fuels.
“This system provides Fort Huachuca with a secure source of clean renewable power at no additional cost,” said David G. Hutchens, TEP’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We worked closely with leaders at the base, the Pentagon and the U.S. Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) to develop a unique solar solution for a very valuable TEP customer.”
TEP owns and operates the system, which ranks among the largest solar arrays on any U.S. Department of Defense installation around the world. Because TEP is combining its output with grid resources to serve the base under existing rates, the system helps the Army work toward its goal of deploying one gigawatt of renewable energy resources by 2025 without increasing the base’s energy costs.
“A privately developed solar array could have increased Fort Huachuca’s total energy costs by as much as $2 million per year,” said Philip J. Dion, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Customer Solutions for TEP. “We developed a much more cost-effective solution that preserves TEP’s longstanding role as the sole provider of safe, reliable power for one of Southern Arizona’s most critical assets.”
E.ON, a partner on other successful TEP solar projects, managed design and construction of the array. The system is linked to an existing TEP substation, and any excess output flows back into the company’s local grid for use by other customers.
The Fort Huachuca system adds to a robust renewable energy portfolio that has earned TEP a place among the nation’s leading solar utilities. TEP has approximately 330 MW of total renewable generating capacity, enough to meet the electric needs of about 70,000 homes.
Solar power plays an important part in TEP’s increasingly diverse generating portfolio. The company is reducing its overall coal generation capacity by more than 30 percent over the next five years through increased use of renewable power, energy efficiency and natural-gas generation, including a recently acquired share of the Gila River Power Station in Gila Bend, Arizona.