The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in 2006 raised Arizona’srenewable energy standard to 15 percent by 2025. Of that amount, thestate regulator stipulates that 30 percent — or about 2,000 megawatts —must come from so-called distributed energy technologies, like solarenergy installations. In short, Arizona utilities are on the hook todevelop a good chunk of solar power in the coming years.
Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is one such utility with renewable energy obligations. On April 1, it received the ACC’s support for a proposalto boost the amount of solar energy in its power mix. All told, TEP’splan will add more than 33 megawatts (mWs) of solar generating capacitythrough power purchasing agreements (PPAs) and new company-owned solarinstallations.
One of the PPAs will see TEP purchase electricity from a 25-mW solarinstallation located northwest of Tucson. The solar farm — to be ownedand operated by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, a solar power projectdeveloper — will feature a ground-mounted, single-axis tracking system,enabling the PV panels to follow the sun.
TEP’s second PPA contract will be with Bell Independent Power Corp., a New York-based project developer specializing in concentrated solarpower (CSP). Bell will own and operate a 5-mW CSP facility at theUniversity of Arizona Science and Technology Park. The facility will use pressurized vapor to drive a turbine by using parabolic troughs and aheat-transfer and storage system.
As for the company-owned solar installations, the Arizona utilityplans to add 3.4-mWs worth of photovoltaic (PV) systems at various sites in the near future.
As relayed by LCG Consulting, ACC Chairwoman Kris Mayes views TEP’sproposed solar installations as a step in the right direction: “Thedevelopment of these local renewable resources is exactly what theArizona Corporation Commission hoped to encourage through the RenewableEnergy Standard,” she said.