Red Horse Wind & Solar Project

A new wind and solar project near Willcox, Arizona can provide Tucson Electric Power with up to 71 megawatts of clean power, making it the company’s largest renewable energy resource.

Houston-based Torch Renewable Energy developed, owns and operates the Red Horse Wind 2 facility, while TEP purchases the electricity that is generated.

The project grows TEP’s renewables portfolio, keeping the company on track to supply 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 as required by Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard.

With Red Horse, TEP has another cost-effective community-scale system that provides customers more solar energy for less money. The system also further diversifies TEP’s power generation portfolio, increasing service reliability.

“Wind and solar are both intermittent sources of power generation. Having wind and solar together provides a more consistent output of energy,” said Jeff Krauss, who manages TEP’s community-scale renewables portfolio. “It works out well because wind tends to pick up in the early morning and at night, while solar produces during the day.”

The wind and solar components are set fairly close together, with the wind turbines on a mountain ridge next to the solar field.

TEP and Torch began negotiations for the solar-wind plant in early 2012 and finalized the agreement in February 2013. The solar portion of the plant began providing power to the grid in June, while the wind portion began in July with the plant fully commissioning in mid-August.

Two other major renewable energy projects are in the works for TEP: an expansion of the Avalon solar array near Green Valley and a smaller expansion at Fort Huachuca.

With Red Horse and those two projects, TEP will have 244 megawatts of community-scale renewable energy in its portfolio. TEP’s sister company, UniSource Energy Services, has an additional 91 megawatts. Counting all of the solar panels on residences and businesses within the service area, a total of 454 megawatts of renewable energy can produce enough power to serve nearly 95,800 homes.