The City of Tucson Water Department and SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced that, with assistance from the Trico Electric SunWatts renewable energy program, SunPower will design and construct a 1-megawatt, ground-mounted solar power system on City-owned, former agricultural land located within Tucson Water Department’s underground water storage and recovery facility, approximately 20 miles west of downtown Tucson. The system is expected to be complete in March 2011, and will double the solar power system capacity hosted by the City.
“With SunPower’s experience and proven technology, we are confident that this system will maximize the amount of sunlight converted to electricity,” stated Director of Tucson Water Jeff Biggs.
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, one of the most passionate supporters of solar energy in Congress, welcomed the announcement.
“Tucson’s commitment to solar energy should be a source of tremendous pride for every Arizonan,” Giffords said. “With this project, solar energy production hosted by my hometown will double, and that will help keep costs low for consumers by locking in stable electricity costs for years to come. This high efficiency project is a smart investment in our future.”
SunPower was selected by the City through a competitive process and has entered into a power purchase agreement with the City of Tucson to finance this project. Under the terms of the agreement, Wells Fargo will finance and own the system that SunPower designs, builds, operates and maintains. Trico Electric, the utility serving the site, will provide additional funding via its SunWatts renewable energy incentive program. The City will host the system and buy the electricity produced by it. Trico Electric Cooperative will purchase the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the system. The City’s cost for the solar energy will be competitive with its current bulk retail rate, providing renewable energy with no initial capital investment.
“This system will be reliably producing clean energy for years to come,” said Jim Pape, president of SunPower’s residential and commercial business group. “Tucson is leading the way in Arizona by seizing this opportunity to help meet the state’s growing energy demand and renewable energy goals.”
On the 10-acre site, SunPower will install a SunPower Tracker® system. The Tracker positions solar panels to follow the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.
The project site is part of the City’s Central Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project (CAVSARP), a short- and long-term water storage and recovery operation, utilizing water from the Central Arizona Project aqueduct and providing city residents with a renewable source of potable water.
About Tucson Water:
Tucson Water is an enterprise fund of the City of Tucson. The utility operates in a manner similar to a private business, covering all costs of doing business with revenues from operations and other water-related funding sources (bonds, property sales, etc.). Tucson Water’s Fiscal Year 2011 annual budget is $138.8 million.
The utility provides water service to nearly 225,000 customer connections representing approximately 775,000 people (around 80 percent of the greater Tucson metropolitan area’s total population) within a 350-square-mile service area. About one-third of the utility’s customers reside outside the city limits. Residential accounts (single family, multi-family and duplex/triplex) make up close to 93 percent of all potable metered connections.
Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc. is a non-profit electric cooperative serving nearly 40,000 customers in northwest Tucson, Marana, Mt. Lemmon, Corona de Tucson, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Three Points and Arivaca.
Formed in 1945, Trico is a proud Touchstone Energy® Cooperative. Trico is headquartered at 8600 W. Tangerine Rd. in Marana, Ariz.
Founded in 1985, SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB) designs, manufactures and delivers the planet’s most powerful solar technology broadly available today. Residential, business, government and utility customers rely on the company’s experience and proven results to maximize return on investment. With headquarters in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Visit our web page for more information.