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May-24-2011 22:37printcomments

Time May Not Leap Ahead in Arizona, but Solar Technology Sure Has

Five-Megawatt Multi-Technology Solar Installation Project Expected to Generate Virtually 100% of College’s Daytime Electricity.

Arizona Western Univ Solar event
Photo: Alison Howell

(YUMA, Ariz.) - Arizona Western College (AWC), Main Street Power Company Inc., a national solar financier, developer PPA Partners, local utility Arizona Public Service (APS), and EPC Rosendin Electric broke ground today on a five-megawatt solar project slated for completion in October 2011.

"This project is huge for our community, and 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 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 day 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 installation is facilitated by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program, which offers financial incentives to residential and commercial customers. “In order for APS to lead the way in developing solar energy in Arizona, it takes a collaborative effort. The end result is Arizona being the solar capital of the world,” noted Andrea Bereznak, APS Community Development Manager.

Large turnout for the Arizona Western College solar event. Photo: Alison Howell

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 could mean $40+ million dollars to the college in cost savings and other revenues 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 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.

Event speakers included:

  • Dr. Glenn Mayle, Arizona Western College President
  • Bruce Mercy, CEO, PPA Partners, Inc.
  • Andrea Bereznak, Community Relations, Arizona Public Service Energy (APS)
  • Julie Engel, CEO, Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation
  • Jonathan W. Postal, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Main Street Power

Arizona Western College serves a 10,000 square mile district on the western edge of Arizona, and more than 12,000 students. AWC offers over 135 certificate, degree and transfer programs, as well as 40 on-site Bachelor and Master’s degrees through Northern Arizona University. AWC employs 400 full-time and 650 part-time and student workers.

Main Street Power Company, Inc. is a Colorado based financier of solar projects across North America.  On distributed generation solar projects, the company works primarily with schools, municipalities, universities, corporations, homebuilders, and nonprofit entities to provide a complete turnkey solar system with no upfront capital outlay.  Services include power purchase agreements and other innovative financing solutions.  On each unique solar project, Main Street Power forms local partnerships with installers, electricians, engineers, general contractors, unions, and workforce development groups.

Project Finance and Legal Partners:  MS Solar Solutions, Venture Law Advisors, Stoel Rives, McDermott Will and Emergy, Vireo Energy.
Utility Partner: Arizona Public Service (APS).

Construction Partners:  Rosendin Electric, Sternco Energy.

Technology Partners: SolFocus, GreenVolts, Suntech, Sharp, Solar World, Satcon, O Solar.

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