Tucson Utility Adding 160 Megawatts of Renewable Powercs

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Tuscon utility will add 160 megawatts of renewable electricity from solar, landfill gas and wind installationsWhile some Arizona legislators seem to have a bit of trouble deciphering the U.S. constitution, the state’s utility companies are wide awake when it comes to shifting out of fossil fuels and adopting renewable energy.  Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has joined the rush to renewables with an announcement that it will purchase the electrical output from solar, landfill gas, and wind installations, which when completed will total almost 160 megawatts or enough to power about 30,000 homes.


The greatest amount will come from ten new solar power installations, which together will account for 107 of the 160 MW.  TEP anticipates completion of these along with the wind and landfill gas projects in 2011 or 2012.

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Local Renewable Energy Installations

According to an article in Solarbuzz, part of TEP’s goal is a network of local solar projects in the Tuscon area, which in addition to providing clean energy also offers up some delicious green jobs opportunities.  The company is experimenting with stationary arrays as well as arrays on racks that shift to follow the sun across the sky, helping to achieve greater efficiency.  Three of the solar arrays will be concentrating solar power systems.  The landfill gas system will also be located fairly close by, in the Tangerine Landfill in Tucson’s home county, Pima.  Only the wind installation will be located out of state, in New Mexico.  Solarbuzz also reports that aside from the 160-MW project, TEP has other solar installations planned for the Tuscon area this year.  Together, that’s an ambitious step into the sustainable future for TEP, which currently has only 16 MW from a combination of fully company owned and subsidized customer-sited installations.

Only the Beginning for Utility-Owned Solar

About 90% of the electricity in the U.S. is represented by the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit research company that has just announced a partnership with SolarTAC, one of the newest and largest solar technology testing centers in the world.  With an industrywide platform bolstering their efforts, TEP and other U.S. utilities are betting heavily on renewables, and they’ll want state and federal legislative support to back them up, too.  Maybe in the near past the fossil fuel lobby had a lock on the formulation of national energy policy, but not any more.

Image: Tucson landmark by Sarah Quinn Armitt on flickr.com.

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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