Tucson Electric Power is developing a large solar array at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista through an innovative partnership that will help the U.S. Army achieve its green-power and energy-security objectives.

Ground was broken April 25 for the array, which is expected to generate 18 megawatts when it comes online later this year. That’s enough power to satisfy one-quarter of the base’s energy requirements and is equivalent to the annual electric needs of approximately 3,100 homes.

It will be the largest solar array on any U.S. Department of Defense base in the world.

This TEP-Army partnership is a first of its kind in the country. TEP will own and operate the array, providing Fort Huachuca with unmatched reliability benefits and a streamlined development process. TEP has contracted with E.ON Climate & Renewables, a partner on other successful solar projects, for the system’s construction.

“This solar array offers a glimpse of a future filled with new, productive partnerships that will benefit our customers,” said Carmine Tilghman, TEP Senior Director of Wholesale, Fuels & Renewable Resources.

“TEP will combine the array’s output with other resources to serve all of the base’s energy needs,” Tilghman said. “Any excess energy the system generates will flow back into the grid for our other customers to use.”

The system will add to the robust renewable energy portfolio that has earned TEP a place among the nation’s leading solar utilities. By the end of 2014, we expect to have more than 200 megawatts of utility-scale renewable generating capacity — enough to meet the annual electric needs of approximately 42,000 homes.

This success has earned TEP repeated recognition among the Solar Electric Power Association Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings as well as the honor of being named the group’s 2012 Investor-Owned Utility of the Year.

TEP’s solar energy resources include utility-owned systems and other local resources secured through power purchase agreements as well as approximately 80 megawatts of distributed-generation systems installed by our customers.

The Fort Huachuca solar array will offset more than 58,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year while reducing other emissions associated with generating an equivalent amount of power with fossil fuels.

The system will help TEP satisfy Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard, which calls on Arizona utilities to increase their use of renewable energy each year until it represents 15 percent of their power in 2025.

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