With the completion of the 10 megawatt Black Mountain Solar Power Project near Kingman, Ariz., SOLON Corp., a PV manufacturer and project developer, has more than 60 megawatts of projects in the state—most completed, while Duke Renewable Energy, which owns the project, has expanded to 37 megawatts of solar projects in Arizona as part of its 1,300 megawatts of renewable energy in operation. Though the size of the project is much smaller than some of the largest projects operating, such small utility-scale projects have other advantages that some of the larger projects don’t.
The Black Mountain project is SOLON’s most recently completed in the state. “SOLON actually has 56 megawatts operating in Arizona (including Black Mountain), and the balance (~7 megawatts) are all in construction and nearing completion. SOLON does not disclose systems that are not under construction,” said Patricia Browne, SOLON’s director of marketing.
SOLON develops commercial- and utility-scale projects, that range between 1 megawatt to 20 megawatts, according to Browne. The company is focussed on the smaller-sized commercial and utility projects for a number of reasons, most of which surround the ease of integration as opposed to larger plants that can require entirely new transmission lines.
“Those are just a couple of the many benefits of projects of those sizes. With smaller utility-scale projects, you get to site them closer to the load centers, i.e. cities, that need the power, further reducing transmission line losses,” Browne said. “You also avoid more easement and right-of-way battles since you don’t need to build more miles of transmission lines. Projects of this size also tend to be easier to finance and hence get installed in a relatively short period of time versus larger size projects that can take years to construct, if they even happen at all,” she added.
With strong roots in the Southwest SOLON is now starting expand nationally. “We’re continuing to bolster our strong presence in the Southwest, but we now have our national team in place and we’re expanding into other regions like California, the Northeast and Southeast, as well as federal market opportunities,” Browne said. “In addition, we’re also getting into the Caribbean and other emerging solar markets where we’re seeing a lot of positive economic development and growth.”
The Black Mountain solar farm, which was built by SOLON and is owned by Duke, is under contract with UniSource Energy Services (UES) and began operating in mid-December, according to SOLON. The utility is purchasing the power produced by the farm under a 20-year power purchase agreement.