Arizona Western College (AWC) and Main Street Power Co. Inc. flipped the switch on a 5-MW solar installation that will provide approximately 100 percent of the college’s daytime electricity needs. Also present were the solar developer and PPA partner MS Solar Solutions Corp. (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Morgan Stanley), the local utility Arizona Public Service (APS), Rosendin Electric and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona.
“As a college that has worked to develop a strong science program, with facilities and scholarships that are the envy of the state, we are thrilled to integrate solar technology into our curriculum and our sustainability plan,” stated AWC president Dr. Glenn Mayle. “This installation creates significant savings and revenue potential for the district that is rare for colleges our size.”
This installation brings together five different 1 MW PV technologies for a 23-acre system that will power the campus and enable clean energy workforce development and training, and research opportunities. The installation is expected to return $62 million to the college in cost savings and other revenues over the 30-year PPA with Main Street Power.
The system will be owned and operated by a project company managed by Main Street Power, as part of its long-term financing program with MS Solar Solutions Corp. “The AWC project is a perfect example of the ‘Wall Street to Main Street’ projects we finance,” said Jonathan W. (J.W.) Postal, Main Street Power’s senior vice president. “Our focus on financing projects for colleges and universities also allows us to provide our customizable solar training curriculum to AWC, and complement the work the college is already doing to prepare students to join the solar industry.”
The installation is facilitated by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program, which offers financial incentives to residential and commercial customers. “More than 17,500 customers have participated in the program since its inception in 2006,” said Pat Dinkel, APS Vice President of Power Marketing, Resource Planning and Acquisition. “It’s this commitment from our customers – like Arizona Western College – and our state’s more than 300 days of sunshine that is helping to distinguish Arizona as a leader in the development of solar power.”
The technologies in the installation include concentrator PV systems with dual-axis trackers from SolFocus and GreenVolts, thin film panels from Sharp Solar, monocrystalline panels from SolarWorld, polycrystalline panels from Suntech, and single-axis trackers from SunEdison. Inverters with solstice combiners are provided by SatCon, and power generation monitoring and data management by Also Energy.
“This project really speaks to national priorities for higher education, energy independence and job creation,” stated Bruce Mercy, CEO of PPA Partners. “This is a landmark project in the solar world, and is a blueprint for institutions around the country seeking the benefits of R&D opportunities and a sustainable energy plan.”
The installation also includes demonstration systems of each technology for corporate and government use, with access available for students and researchers. New curriculum offerings at the college will range from solar technician certificates to renewable energy degree programs, and partnerships are in the works with universities for continuing bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. The college’s workforce training is expected to lead to thousands of clean energy jobs needed to complete numerous solar projects planned in Arizona and other Southwest states.
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