TUCSON, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is developing a large solar array at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., through an innovative partnership that will help the U.S. Army achieve its renewable energy and energy security objectives.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held today for the array, which is expected to have a capacity of approximately 18 megawatts (MW) when it comes online later this year. That’s enough power to satisfy one-quarter of the base’s energy needs and is equivalent to the annual electric needs of approximately 3,100 homes.
TEP will own and operate the array, providing Fort Huachuca with unmatched reliability and a streamlined development process available only through this unique partnership. TEP has contracted with E.ON Climate & Renewables, a partner on other successful solar projects, for the system’s construction.
“We’re very proud to provide Fort Huachuca with a cost-effective solar power resource that will contribute to the base’s long-term energy security,” said David Hutchens, President and Chief Operating Officer of TEP and its parent company, UNS Energy Corporation (NYSE: UNS). “This new, productive partnership will benefit our customers while helping both the base and TEP make significant progress toward our respective renewable energy goals.”
The Fort Huachuca system will be larger than any existing solar array on any U.S. Department of Defense base in the world. Once in operation, it will serve as the largest single solar resource owned by TEP. The system will offset more than 58,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year while reducing other emissions associated with generating an equivalent amount of power with fossil fuels.
The system at Fort Huachuca will be connected to an existing substation through a single interconnection on TEP’s side of the meter. Any excess energy the system generates will flow back into the grid for use by other TEP customers.
Combined with energy storage and other future enhancements, the system will be capable of providing the base with unique energy security benefits that would not be available through a third-party system. TEP’s engineering capabilities and familiarity with renewable energy integration will help the base avoid interconnection delays, permitting problems and other common pitfalls associated with building a solar array.
“Fort Huachuca had a unique set of objectives and we were committed to satisfying them,” said Philip J. Dion, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Customer Solutions. “By working creatively with the fort’s leadership and the Army’s Energy Initiatives Task Force, we were able to develop a solution that serves our customer’s energy needs while establishing a model that supports the Army’s mission to expand its renewable resources.”
The system will add to the robust renewable energy portfolio that has earned TEP a place among the nation’s leading solar utilities. By the end of 2014, TEP expects to have more than 200 MW of utility-scale solar generating capacity – enough to meet the annual electric needs of 42,000 homes. TEP’s solar energy resources include utility-owned systems and other local resources secured through power purchase agreements as well as approximately 80 MW of distributed-generation systems installed by TEP customers.
TEP’s successful track record of solar energy development has earned the company repeated recognition among the Solar Electric Power Association Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings as well as the honor of being named the group’s 2012 investor-owned Utility of the Year.
“We’ve been expanding our company-owned solar resources by 20 MW each year through large local systems,” said Carmine Tilghman, TEP Senior Director of Wholesale, Fuels and Renewable Resources. “Our partnership with Fort Huachuca offers us an opportunity to achieve a full year’s worth of progress at a single site.”