TEP To Purchase 25-MW of PV, 5-MW of CSP

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is working with partners to develop two new solar power systems that would rank as the Tucson area’s largest renewable power plants. The systems, including a new 25-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) array and a 5-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, are expected to be completed by January 2012. TEP has agreed to purchase power from both systems, which will be privately owned and operated.

The 25 MW PV array, which will be owned and operated by the global solar company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, will feature ground-mounted solar panels that rotate along a single axis to track the sun’s movement through the sky, increasing the system’s energy output.

The 5-MW CSP plant, will be the first system of its kind in the Tucson area. The facility will use rows of parabolic troughs and a heat-transfer and storage system to create pressurized vapor that will be used to drive a turbine. Bell Independent Power Corp. (BIPC) will develop, own and operate the CSP plant.

TEP announced earlier this month that it is seeking US $25 million in federal stimulus funds for the project. The utility has signed contracts to purchase the energy produced from both projects over 20-year terms. Renewable Ventures and BIPC plan to use those agreements to help secure financing for their projects.

The contracts, which will be submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) for approval, will be funded in part by an ACC-approved surcharge intended to support the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES). The RES calls on utilities to increase their use of renewable energy each year until such resources represent 15 percent of their power by 2025.

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