Arizona’s Largest Solar Project Dedicated in Florence

Congressman Raul Grijalva joined state and local officials and energy industry leaders to celebrate Arizona’s newest and largest commercial-scale solar power project at the dedication of Iberdrola Renewables’ Copper Crossing Solar Ranch in Florence.

Located in Pinal County, the 20-MW project sits on 144 acres and began operation earlier this year. Under a 25-year agreement, Salt River Project will purchase the entire output of the project, which is expected to provide enough clean, homegrown energy to power about 3,700 homes each year.

“Smart development of solar power is the future of Arizona, and this project is a great step forward for the economy and the environment of southern Arizona,” Congressman Grijalva said. “The success of this project will help build the viability of good solar development all over our state. When we create jobs, build our tax base, reduce emissions and provide clean power to thousands of homes, it’s some of the best news I can share as a Congressman, and that’s why I’m so happy to be part of this announcement today.”

The project brings a new source of renewable energy to the region while supporting the local economy through property tax payments to Pinal County and job creation. During the peak of Copper Crossing construction, the project directly employed about 200 workers. Additionally, 18 local companies worked on the project, and approximately $1 million was spent locally.

The project is Iberdrola Renewables’ first completed solar project in the U.S., and adds to a portfolio of nearly 5,000 megawatts of renewables across the country. The new solar plant will be the third large renewable-power project in which SRP has partnered with Portland, Oregon-based Iberdrola Renewables – the Dry Lake Wind Farm Phase 1 was dedicated as Arizona’s first commercial-scale, wind power project in October 2009, and Phase 2 reached commercial operation in late 2010.

“We are proud to partner with Iberdrola Renewables once again to offer our customers another renewable, clean source of energy,” said SRP General Manager Mark Bonsall. “At SRP, our goal is to manage emissions while utilizing a diverse portfolio of resources at the lowest cost to our customers.”

Already, more than 100 schools in 11 Valley school districts are tapping into the power of the sun from the plant to offset a portion of their electric needs through SRP’s Community Solar program. The program, which is also open to residential customers, allows customers to invest in solar energy without the upfront costs or maintenance of a rooftop system. School districts and residential customers will pay a set price for 10 and five years, respectively.

The energy delivered from the plant will support SRP’s Sustainable Portfolio. The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20 percent of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020. Currently, SRP is ahead of schedule – providing a little more than nine percent of retail energy needs with sustainable resources, which include renewable energy, hydro power, conservation, efficiency and pricing measures.

“It is with great pride that we debut our first solar power project in the United States,” said Martin Mugica, the Executive Vice President for Iberdrola Renewables. “Solar power is growing rapidly because it can be developed economically almost anywhere across the country, and because customers want it. Copper Crossing is a perfect example of the bright future for solar. It is a world-class project that taps the solar resource of Arizona, partners with a strong customer like SRP, and features proven technology.”

Copper Crossing began construction in late 2010. Designed and built by California-based SunPower Corp., it features more than 66,000 solar panels manufactured by SunPower, along with the associated tracking technology.

“We have a great solar team here in Arizona,” said Governor’s Office of Energy Policy Director Leisa Brug.  “This successful project generating 20 megawatts of clean renewable energy will enhance Arizona’s solar profile and help make us the state where solar has a long and bright future.”

“The wonderful history of SRP, and its forward thinking, has transformed Arizona; and their involvement with new solar projects are leading us into a cleaner, brighter future,” said Town of Florence Mayor Vicki Kilvinger.

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