Construction is underway at TEP’s Oso Grande Wind Project, which will generate enough clean energy each year to serve about 90,000 Tucson homes – plus about half of a college campus — when it is completed at the end of this year.
Construction crews are installing 61 wind turbines on 24,000 acres southeast of Roswell, N.M. From base to blade tip, the largest turbines will reach more than 600 feet high – more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty (305 feet) and taller than the Washington Monument (555 feet).
With the completion of the 250-megawatt (MW) Oso Grande project and other planned renewable systems, the company will more than double its wind and solar capacity. TEP’s other ongoing renewable projects include the Wilmot Energy Center – a 100-MW solar array and 30-MW battery storage system south of Tucson International Airport – as well as a 100 MW wind project about 100 miles south of Gallup, New Mexico.
“Oso Grande will play a big role in our renewable energy portfolio. We already have significant solar resources that are productive in the middle of the day. A big benefit of wind is that it’s productive in the morning and throughout the night,” said Erik Bakken, Vice President of Transmission & Distribution Planning and Environmental. “Wind complements solar nicely, and allows us to deliver renewable energy to customers around the clock.”
TEP will devote portions of Oso Grande and the Wilmot Energy Center to serving the University of Arizona’s Tucson campus through a landmark energy supply agreement announced last year. The UA is now the largest research university in the country with a plan to offset all of its scope two emissions – those produced from the generation of energy purchased from a utility provider. The agreement provides the university with affordable access to energy from both renewable systems for 20 years, beginning on the first day that both systems are operating.
While some renewable construction projects have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, Oso Grande remains on schedule for completion by the end of 2020. Crews working on the project are practicing social distancing and employing other protections to reduce the risk of infection.
Once completed, Oso Grande will serve as TEP’s largest renewable energy resource. That honor is currently held by the Red Horse facility in Willcox, Ariz., with 41 MW of solar and 30 MW of wind generating capacity.
Last year, about 13 percent of the power that TEP delivered to customers came from renewable resources. With the completion of these three large energy projects, TEP’s renewable energy production is expected to exceed 28 percent of its retail sales.