Tucson utility plans nation’s largest PV solar plant, thanks to federal & state programs

14-MW Array, Nellis Air Force Base, NV.

14-MW Array, Nellis Air Force Base, NV.

Tucson Electric Power Company’s (TEP) announcement yesterday that it intends to build a 25-MW solar PV power plant (twice the size of the largest existing system in the country and seven times larger than the giant array used as a backdrop by CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the day before in announcing his own power initiative) outside of Tucson, Arizona, didn’t put a dent in the national news-cycle.

It should have. This is big news.

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid

Then again, just a couple of days ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), went all squishy on whether or not the Senate would even debate a climate bill this year. Apparently, investing in renewable energy as a way to combat global warming is not very high on the Democrats’ To-D0 list at the moment.

That, in itself, is remarkable.

According to TEP spokesman, Joe Salkowski, a combination of state and federal policies “make this project (the giant solar array) possible.”

Salkowski singled-out Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) and federal investment tax credits for renewable energy as playing a significant role in TEP’s decision to build the solar plant.

The RES mandates that Arizona utilities generate 15% of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2025, with annual goals building up to that final year as a way to help utilities make the transition in power sources.

“The goals set by the program are ambitions,” Salkowski said in a phone interview with the Phoenix Sun today, “but they provide our company with targets and that’s helpful.”

The TEP array, will be built and owned by Renewable Ventures, which will sell the electricity to TEP. Salkowski said he expects the system to be operating by January 2012. No site has yet been selected for the solar power plant.

For more:

TEP website

Renewable Ventures

Arizona Corporation Commission, RES info

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