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New 5MW Multi-Technology Solar Installation

The project is comprised of five one-megawatt sites across the campus. The technologies include CPV from SolFocus (including their dual-axis trackers).
by Staff Writers
Yuma AZ (SPX) May 24, 2011
Arizona Western College (AWC), Main Street Power Company, developer PPA Partners, local utility Arizona Public Service (APS), and EPC Rosendin Electric have broken ground on a five-megawatt solar project slated for completion in October 2011.

The groundbreaking of this innovative solar project celebrates the culmination of years of preparation and development by the college, APS, PPA Partners, and Rosendin Electric. The system will be owned and operated by Main Street Power, in partnership with its long-term financing partner MS Solar Solutions, a fully owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley.

Jonathan W. (J.W.) Postal, Main Street Power's Senior VP stated, "This is an exciting moment for the college, for Yuma, and the solar industry, and we are proud of our innovative financing work to bring this project across the finish line. Our collaborative work with the college, our partners and the local utility should serve as an example for other institutions on how to get renewable energy projects financed and built across the country."

The project is comprised of five one-megawatt sites across the campus. The technologies include CPV from SolFocus (including their dual-axis trackers) and GreenVolts (fully integrated system including two-axis trackers and inverters); Thin Film panels from Sharp Solar; Monocrystalline panels from Solar World, Poly Crystalline panels from Suntech, and single-axis trackers from O Solar. The tracking systems allow the panels to continually track the movement of the sun in order to maximize electricity generation.

"We know of no other solar project where all five technologies are showcased at utility scale, installed by the same group, at the same time with the same equipment, tracked and optimized, and under the best solar resource in the country. The data generated by the project should be very interesting," stated Bruce Mercy, CEO of PPA Partners.

Designed and installed by Rosendin Electric, the project is anticipated to produce virtually 100% of the campus' daytime electricity needs, and will save the college $40+ million dollars over the 30-year power purchase agreement with Main Street Power.

"We are building a landmark project with a great team of partners utilizing local labor while connecting AWC students to the future of renewable energy," said Rosendin's Director of Solar Operations, Duncan Frederick.

The installation also includes private demonstration systems of each technology for corporate and government comparisons, and access by students and researchers.

New curriculum offerings at the college will range from certificates to Renewable Energy degree programs, and partnerships are in the works with universities for continuing Bachelor's and Master's degrees.

The college's workforce training is expected to lead to thousands of clean tech jobs in the Southwest in coming years, considering multiple planned solar projects in Arizona and surrounding states. Renewable energy manufacturers tend to build new plants within 60 miles of major education and research centers, making this project a benchmark opportunity for future development and growth.

"This project is huge for our community, but also for the future of renewable energy education around the country. And, as colleges face increased enrollment and decreased funding, any steps we can take towards energy independence means more resources for classes, for faculty, and ultimately benefits the students," stated AWC President Glenn Mayle.

The installation was facilitated by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program. This Program offers financial incentives to customers who add Renewable Energy systems to their homes or businesses.

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