Two Solar Facilities Online in Gila Bend, Arizona

Arizona Public Service announced that another solar facility has come online in Gila Bend, Ariz., an area quickly becoming a hub of solar energy within a state that is working to become the Solar Capital of the World.

The Cotton Center Solar Plant is the most recent facility to reach commercial operation, making it the second APS AZ Sun facility to bring solar power to customers. Developed and constructed by Solon — one of the largest providers of turnkey solar power plants in the U.S. — this 17-MW facility will provide enough solar power to fulfill the energy needs of more than 4,000 APS customers.

With two facilities online and one under construction, APS continues to come back to the Gila Bend area because the small town — recognizing the economic benefits solar can bring — created a Solar Field Overlay Zone. Within this zone, the permitting for solar projects can be fast-tracked. This ensures plants come together quickly, unencumbered by unnecessary red tape. With more than 300 days of sunshine and clear skies, Gila Bend is one of the most ideal locations in the nation’s ideal state for soaking up the sun’s rays and turning it into clean, solar power.

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Gila Bend also is home to Paloma, APS’s first Arizona sun facility which reached commercial operation in August of this year. Just outside of Gila Bend, the 250-MW Solana Generating Station is currently under construction and is set to reach commercial operation in mid-2013.

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“With AZ Sun, APS is investing in 100 MW of solar PV power plants across the state, providing a substantial boost to Arizona’s growing solar industry by financing the projects — the end result is a win for our company, a win for our customers and a win for Arizona,” said Pat Dinkel, APS Vice President of Power Marketing, Research Planning and Acquisition. “Cotton Center is the culmination of a great partnership between APS, Solon and the Town of Gila Bend.”

Cotton Center is located on 145 acres and consists of more than 93,000 PV panels placed in 1,662 rows. The panels follow the sun across the sky using a single-axis tracking system.

With Cotton Center, APS’s total renewable portfolio is 930 MW, including projects online and in development. Of that total, 362 MW are in service today, providing enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 90,000 APS customers.

To date, the Cotton Center Solar Plant has used almost 142,000 man-hours of work, contributing to the creation of more than 200 jobs in Arizona.

“Our standardized, scalable, turnkey solutions make Solon Corporation an ideal partner for utility-scale solar projects, and we are extremely proud that APS has chosen to work with us on this breakthrough project,” said Dan Alcombright, Chief Executive Officer and President of North America for Solon. “We are excited to see the AZ Sun program go live, and to have helped a utility right here in Arizona to expand its renewable portfolio.”

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