Wastewater Gets The Solar Treatment

Gilbert is the latest municipality in the state of Arizona to install a photovoltaic (PV) system at its wastewater treatment plant. And why not? There’s plenty of sun, the plants take up lots of space and they need the power to function.

SPG Solar, a Bay Area solar energy developer, announced completion of the 2.3-megawatt PV system at Gilbert’s Neely Wastewater Reclamation Facility. With over 8,000 solar panels mounted on trackers over existing recharge basins, the system will generate more than 4 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year – enough to power more than 430 homes, and save the city up to $2 million over the next 20 years.

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image via SPG Solar

Part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, Gilbert was able to install the solar power system with no upfront capital costs, thanks to a power purchase agreement with Integrys Energy Services, owner of the system. The facility is also eligible for renewable energy incentive rebates from Arizona Public Service’s (APSGreen Choice program.

APS is Arizona’s largest and oldest electrical utility, serving more than 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. The system will help APS meet Arizona’s renewable energy standard, which requires utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

“Gilbert is thrilled to be dedicating this system today and applauds the great partnership with those involved on this initiative,” Gilbert Mayor John Lewis said in a statement. “The construction of this solar powered system reaffirms the community’s focus on environmental stewardship and further enhances the business case for clean technology companies to operate and invest in Gilbert based on available workforce and local and state incentives.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).