Arizona Utility Offers Solar Power Direct

If you live in Tucson, Arizona, and you’re interested in solar, here’s an item of interest: as of February 1, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will be offering juice from its new 1.6-megawatt (MW) tracking array at the University of Arizona’s Solar Zone direct to consumers in 150 kilowatt “blocks.”

According to TEP, each of the blocks offered through its Bright Tucson Solar Program will add $3 to a household’s monthly energy bills, allowing customers to purchase some or all of their energy from solar, in turn reducing or eliminating their use of conventional power. This program will help TEP cover the higher costs associated with solar-generated electricity while helping to build the economies of scale expected to reduce disparities in pricing.

Solar Zone U of A

image via University of Arizona

The 1.6 MW system at TEP’s University of Arizona array will produce enough power to make 1,600 “blocks” available to customers, and additional blocks are expected to become available as TEP’s significantly larger systems planned for the Solar Zone and other regional sites come online. TEP has earmarked $28 million for solar infrastructure this year and plans to build out 28 MW of solar generating capacity in the next three years, or enough energy to reportedly power around 4,500 Tucson homes.

Construction on the 1.6 MW system, which spans 14 acres, began in October 2010, and concluded in December 2010. The array is expected to produce approximately 3,000,000 kWh in first-year output, and approximately 60,000,000 kWh over 20 years.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.