APS AZ Sun Program to produce 100 MW of solar power

Arizona Public Service Company, the largest electric utility company in Arizona, has just signed contracts for two new photovoltaic (PV) power plants in Arizona. Through the AZ Sun Program, Arizona Public Service Company (APS) will take ownership upon completion of the plants which are being developed by SunEdison.

Together, the two PV plants will produce a combined capacity of 37 megawatts of solar power. Located in Hyder, near Yuma, and Chino Valley, north or Prescott, the plants will add to APS’ total renewable energy portfolio, increasing it to 682 megawatts upon completion in 2013.

“The AZ Sun Program is part of a much larger overall initiative to bring more renewable energy to our customers,” said Steven Gotfried, renewable energy spokesman for APS Energy. “We plan to have 2,500 megawatts of renewable energy online by 2025.”

Through the AZ Sun Program, APS plans to develop 100 megawatts of utility-owned PV power plants using a model where a third party develops the solar plant and APS takes ownership upon completion. Including these two new projects, APS is currently developing 70 megawatts total through the AZ Sun Program.

“With 300 plus sunny days a year, solar makes sense in Arizona,” said Gotfried. “We want to be the solar capital of the world, and we’re well on our way to becoming that.”

The Hyder plant is expected to break ground in June 2011 and be in service by the end of the year. In Chino Valley, the solar plant will break ground in early 2012, with an expected completion date of fourth quarter 2012.

“These two solar projects will further increase the resource and geographic diversity of our energy supply, and under the AZ Sun program they will also provide ownership diversity,” said Don Robinson, APS president and CEO. “By adding layers of diversity to our energy supply, we are reducing our fuel cost risk and increasing energy security for our customers. We also are providing another substantial boost to Arizona’s growing renewable energy industry.”

The Arizona Corporate Commission approved the AZ Sun Program in 2010 to take advantage of the region’s abundant sunshine and open space. Two other AZ Sun Program projects are scheduled to be serviceable in 2011, a 15-megawatt installation at Luke Air Force Base and an 18-megawatt project in Gila Bend.

Pictured: An artist's rendering of APS' Gila Bend solar facility a few seconds before the apocalypse.