Red, Blue & Green

Teaming up to power sustainability at UArizona

As the sun bears down on Wildcat Country, it also helps power the University of Arizona’s Tucson campus.

Tucson Electric Power is proud to support the UA's ambitious efforts to achieve greater sustainability. Since May 2021, all of the power that TEP provides to the university’s Tucson campus comes from TEP’s wind and solar resources.

This partnership allows the University to to offset its main campus’ “scope two” greenhouse gas emissions – those produced by its utility provider. TEP provides about 60 percent of the energy used by the Tucson campus, with the rest generated on-site by solar panels and natural gas-fired resources.

This partnership has allowed the school to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint by nearly one-third. All of the energy that TEP provides for campus comes from two new renewable energy resources that also serve other TEP customers: the Oso Grande Wind Project and the Wilmot Energy Center.

The 250-megawatt (MW) Oso Grande Wind Project includes 62 highly efficient turbines at a site southeast of Roswell, New Mexico. The system started operations in May 2021.

The Wilmot Energy Center includes a 100-megawatt solar array and a 30-MW energy storage system, each the largest of their kind on TEP’s local energy grid. The system, which will include about 314,000 solar panels on a site south of Tucson, came online in April 2021.

TEP’s agreement with the university provides affordable access to energy from those two renewable systems for 20 years. The energy partnership was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents and the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2019.

The University’s plan for greater sustainability helped TEP expand its near-term clean energy achievements. We share a commitment to make meaningful changes that promote sustainability and clean energy in our community. The agreement strengthens a longtime partnership between two important local institutions.

Reducing Carbon Emissions, Expanding Renewables

TEP’s 2020 Integrated Resource Plan describes how we plan to provide more than 70 percent of our power from wind and solar resources and reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2035. It proposes the retirement of all our coal-fired power plants over the next 12 years plus a dramatic expansion of energy storage resources. In addition to reduced emissions, the plan will eliminate our use of surface water for power generation while reducing groundwater use by 70 percent.

Our carbon reduction goal was developed in partnership with the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment and represents our fair share of worldwide efforts to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius under the 2015 Paris Agreement addressing climate change.

TEP and UArizona: Continuing Collaboration

TEP and the University of Arizona were both founded over 100 years ago and are longtime partners. The two Tucson institutions have worked together for many years to expand educational opportunities, promote renewable energy research, provide professional training for local teachers and develop innovative products.

TEP and the university teamed with solar developers to build the Solar Zone at Tech Parks Arizona. We collaborate on solar and storage research and protect wildlife while safeguarding our local energy grid through the Raptor Protection Program.

Delivering Clean Energy

TEP plans to deliver clean energy to the campus with a new transmission line that will also strengthen electric reliability and serve growing energy needs throughout central Tucson. The planned Kino to DeMoss-Petrie 138 kV Transmission Line will interconnect two existing substations with the planned Vine Substation, which was previously named the UA North Substation.

The project will help prevent service outages in central Tucson neighborhoods, increase electric capacity and support the University of Arizona and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.

10 years of Solar Zone

The Solar Zone at Tech Parks Arizona, a joint venture of TEP, the university and solar developers, is one of the largest multi-technology solar demonstration sites in the United States.  Nine solar power systems at the site contribute 25 megawatts to TEP’s renewable energy portfolio.

The first-of-its-kind research park is located at Rita Road near Interstate 10. TEP unveiled its first local community-scale solar array at the Solar Zone in 2011.